If your furnace was installed more than 10 years ago and does not carry the high-efficiency moniker, it might be time to consider an upgrade. While this might require a significant upfront investment, in the long-run that investment could pay off in a big way.
The good news is that efficiency in furnaces is now carefully measured, and that means you can figure out how much a new furnace might save you on energy bills before you decide which make and model to buy.
What is AFUE?
AFUE stands for annual fuel utilization efficiency. Expressed as a percentage, it measures the amount of fuel your furnace uses that is converted to heat.
High-efficiency furnaces have high AFUE percentages, signifying the low levels of gas they waste. Current government standards mandate AFUE ratings of 80 percent or higher, and any new furnace you purchase is likely to offer an AFUE rating of somewhere between 80 and 98 percent—meaning between 80 and 98 percent of the fuel you pay for will actually be used to heat your home.
To put these numbers in perspective, a furnace installed 30-40 years ago might have wasted as much as 30-40 percent of the fuel it burned, depending on how well maintained it was, while a furnace that meets the minimal standards today would only waste half that amount.
Cost Comparison: 80% AFUE vs. 96% AFUE Furnace
The cost of a new furnace will vary, based mainly on its AFUE rating. In general you should expect to pay between $1,500 and $4,000 for the furnace alone, not including installation, and a furnace with an AFUE rating of 96 percent will likely cost you 40-50 percent more than one with an AFUE rating of 80 percent.
That might sound like a significant mark-up, but it really isn’t when you factor in expected energy savings.
Savings Differential: 80% AFUE vs. 96% AFUE Furnace
With AFUE data available, calculating the savings offered by one furnace over another is a straightforward affair. You simply use the furnace with the lower rating as your baseline, the take the difference in percentages to compute your expected fuel savings. To put that more simply, a new furnace with an AFUE of 96 would produce heating bills 16 percent lower than a furnace with an AFUE of 80.
Of course, if you have an older furnace with uncertain performance, you can’t be sure how much savings a new 80 AFUE furnace would deliver. But if you estimate savings of 10-20 percent (which may be modest if your current furnace isn’t in great working order), and your current winter heating bills run about $100 a month, installing a furnace with an AFUE of 80 could cut your costs down to $80 a month.
Meanwhile, a 96 AFUE furnace could potentially reduce your bills to just $64 a month, and over time those kinds of savings could really add up.
Efficiency Improvements and Other Factors that Can Affect Savings
Needless to say, the size of your savings will depend on the length of the winter and on the hours you use your furnace each day. In Colorado and Wyoming winters are long and cold, which definitely magnifies the impact of a high-efficiency furnace of any AFUE rating in this part of the country.
In addition to installing a new high-efficiency furnace, there are other types of changes you could make that would have an impact as well. Upgrading your insulation, sealing air leaks, weatherstripping around doors and windows, and switching to double-glazed or high solar gain/low-e glass windows could boost your home’s energy-efficiency by a substantial amount, while remodeling or a sudden jump in the price of natural gas could push your heating bills upward.
But regardless of any other changes you make, getting a new furnace with a strong AFUE rating could still cut your winter heating bills by a consequential amount, and with an expected lifespan of 25 or more years (if you are diligent about maintenance), your new furnace should pay for itself in energy savings well before it needs replacement.
Another advantage of installing a new high-efficiency furnace is that it will increase your property values should you decide to sell your home within the next few years, and that alone could make it worth the investment.
Get High-Efficiency Service from Rheem Pro Partner
At Rheem Pro Partner we sell high-efficiency furnaces manufactured by Rheem, one of the most esteemed and respected names in the heating and cooling industry. We also employ highly-trained HVAC technicians who can handle any installation job regardless of the challenges involved. If you’re thinking about purchasing a new high-efficiency furnace, please contact us today for more information and to arrange a consultation. If you ultimately decide to do business with us, you’ll join a long list of satisfied customers in Colorado and Wyoming who’ve turned to us in their time of need.
New furnaces require a significant financial investment, and if you make the wrong choice the size of that investment may grow as you’re forced to pay for multiple repairs and upgrades.
If you’re in the market for a new furnace, here are eight factors to consider before you make your purchase …
- Fuel-use efficiency
Furnaces are evaluated based on their AFUE ratings. AFUE stands for ‘annual fuel utilization efficiency,’ and it refers to the percentage of the fuel your furnace consumes that is actually converted to usable heat.
In areas where winter temperatures routinely plunge below zero, you’ll want to purchase a furnace with an AFUE rating of 92 or better. A premium-quality furnace might carry a rating of 97-98 percent, and while such an appliance may seem costly it can deliver amazing levels of energy savings over the course of its lifespan.
- Furnace operating speed
Your choices are furnaces with single-speed blowers, which (as the name implies) run at the same speed all the time, or variable-speed furnaces, which adjust the intensity of their operation based on changes in the weather.
Variable-speed furnaces that adjust their pace of heat production up or down as outdoor temperatures rise and fall will consume less fuel and cost less to operate, while still keeping you warm and comfortable at all times. Variable-speed furnaces are more expensive, but because they are more efficient they may reduce your energy bills dramatically if you live in locations that experience frequent fluctuations in wintertime temperatures.
- Programmable thermostats
For maximum reductions in energy usage, you should support your new furnace by adding a programmable thermostat with WiFi capability as a companion piece.
Compared to traditional thermostats, programmable thermostats can cut your energy costs by 10-20 percent. The secret of their success is that they let you customize your HVAC system’s operation down to the minute, putting you in the driver’s seat as you look to reduce your utility costs to the lowest level possible.
- The quality of the warranty
Most high-efficiency modern furnaces come with a 10-year limited warranty on parts and a 20-year warranty on the heat exchanger, which is vital to the continued functioning of the furnace. You might be able to extend that warranty by 5-10 years for a price, if you want to give yourself additional peace of mind.
As you look at the warranty don’t forget to read the fine print, so you can avoid any nasty surprises down the road. Regular maintenance may be required to preserve warranty protections, but its in your best interest to schedule annual maintenance visits anyway.
- Zoning capacity
If you live in a large house, or one that just naturally has broad temperature differentials between rooms, you should consider installing a zoned heating system. Zoned installations feature multiple thermostats for separate rooms or sections of the house, and wireless or manual dampers on your registers will let you direct heated air to the parts of the home where it is needed the most.
Zoning might sound expensive, but keep in mind it still involves only one furnace, and it would allow you to shift the heat exclusively to the spaces you occupy, thereby saving you the trouble (and the expense) of heating sections of your home that are lightly-used.
- Indoor air quality
In combination with your new furnace, you might want to consider upgrading to superior-quality air filters. If you are unsure about which ones offer the best performance, you can ask the HVAC technicians installing your new furnace to check your old filters and make recommendations.
To bolster your indoor air quality even further, you may want to supplement your new furnace by adding an air cleaner or air purifier, which can be installed inside your ductwork. A whole-house humidifier is another great option for wintertime comfort, since heated air can be quite dry and can leave you feeling itchy and uncomfortable.
- The credentials of your HVAC contractor
Unfortunately, there are many fly-by-night operators in the heating and cooling business, and if you have the misfortune of employing one you’ll likely suffer significant financial losses because of that mistake.
A legitimate HVAC contractor will have an established presence in the community, documentation to prove they’ve been licensed, great reviews online, and a roster comprised entirely of highly-trained and fully-certified technicians with a wealth of experience. They may not give you the lowest bid on labor and installation costs, but they’ll save you a lot of headaches and heartaches in the long-run by doing the job right.
- Available rebates and incentives
When you purchase a new energy-efficient furnace with a high AFUE rating, you likely be eligible for a broad range of rebates, tax breaks and other financial incentives offered by state and local governments, the federal government, furnace manufacturers and retailers.
Energy-efficiency is all the rage these days, and you’d be amazed how many benefits are available to anyone who chooses to install energy-saving and environmentally-friendly technology. Financing options are usually available to help you handle the costs of a new furnace as well, and your HVAC contractor will work with you to keep your equipment and installation costs well within your budget.
Rheem Pro Partner Offers Unmatched Expertise in Furnace Sales and Installations
Are you ready to buy a new furnace, or at least ready to consider the idea? Before you take the plunge, please contact Rheem Pro Partner today to discuss your options, and to make an appointment for a full HVAC system inspection. As our satisfied customers in Colorado and Wyoming can attest, we offer top-quality heating and cooling products backed by superior installation services.
Annual furnace inspections might seem fussy or a nuisance, but they’re just the opposite. Maintenance and tune-up visits are important, and there are several good reasons why HVAC contractors strongly recommend you have an inspection performed before the beginning of each heating season.
8 Benefits of Annual Furnace Inspections
If you arrange to have a trained HVAC technician inspect your furnace and the HVAC system that supports it, here are some of the benefits you can expect:
- Cleaner air
During your annual tune-up, the technician who visits your home will clean your HVAC system inside and out, and that will prevent your furnace from spreading airborne contaminants once it’s switched on. The technician can also change your air filter for you, if you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself. If you’ve been buying cheap filters, the technician will recommend a superior model that will do a much better job of capturing dirt, pet dander, pollen, chemical traces and other indoor pollutants that can damage your health.
- Proper airflow
Tune-ups focus on smooth operation of the system, and one of the first things a technician will check for is restricted airflow. This can happen if the air filter is clogged, if the blower is plugged with dirt or other debris, or if there are obstructions inside the ductwork.
Malfunctions in a gas furnace can be especially dangerous. Gas leaks or carbon monoxide buildup can be fatal if they aren’t addressed quickly, but fortunately a trained technician can keep your furnace in good working order to make sure these types of problems don’t arise.
- Reduction of repair costs
Do you want to pay a little bit now or a lot more later? Annual maintenance inspection plans are a cheap and easy way to avoid costly repairs, since they allow HVAC technicians to uncover and fix small problems before they turn into much bigger problems, which could conceivably threaten your furnace’s survival.
Annual maintenance inspections are unobtrusive and can be fit in around your schedule. But breakdowns are unexpected and unpredictable, and if your furnace goes out on the coldest night of the year, or during one of your busiest work weeks, it could cause significant disruptions to your personal and professional life. It could even force you to leave your home for a few days, while you wait for an HVAC technician to finish the necessary repairs.
- Better energy efficiency
High-quality furnaces can only deliver superior performance if they are kept in prime working order. All the parts of a furnace need to be cleaned on a regular basis, and without consistent maintenance dirt and grime can build up and interfere with efficient furnace operation.
- Maintenance of the manufacturer’s warranty
Did you know that most manufacturer’s warranties become null and void if the furnace is not regularly maintained? Needless to say, it is not in your best interest to negate your furnace’s warranty, and just the fact that manufacturers require maintenance and tune-up visits tells you how vital they are to the health and welfare of your HVAC system.
- Extended lifespan for your HVAC system
Like other heavy-duty appliances, furnaces face an enormous workload, and if they aren’t well-maintained they can fail suddenly and without warning. Neglecting a furnace is a recipe for disaster, and if you skip on maintenance inspections you’ll be asking for trouble. But if you keep them fine-tuned and fully ready for action at all times, they can last for 15 years or more.
- Superior Home Comfort
When furnaces are neglected they won’t operate at peak efficiency, that’s an undeniable fact. They will struggle to handle their heating responsibilities, and that means you’ll be left shivering on the coldest nights when you should be toasty and comfortable. Annual maintenance inspections are the best way to prevent this unfortunate occurrence, and if you fail to have an inspection done your personal comfort may be seriously compromised.
Rheem Pro Partner offers the Best Maintenance Services
In Colorado and Wyoming winters can be long and severe, and you need to know that your furnace will be ready to go when you need it. Annual inspections are an excellent way to keep your furnace in top working order, and that is doubly true if you choose Rheem Pro Partner to handle the job. Our skilled technicians are experts in basic and advanced furnace maintenance, and we invite you to contact us today to schedule your autumn tune-up and inspection.
In the average American home, heating and cooling costs can account for up to 50 percent of a family’s utility budget. In places like Colorado, where winter weather is more extreme than summer weather, a furnace may be responsible for most of these charges.
In heating and cooling energy efficiency is what matters, and if your current furnace isn’t efficient you may want to make a change.
AFUE: The Gold Standard of Furnace Efficiency
AFUE is an acronym that stands for annual fuel utilization efficiency, and it is the primary measuring standard used to determine the energy efficiency of a natural gas furnace. AFUE is expressed as a percentage; specifically, it is the percentage of useful heat produced (in British Thermal Units, or BTUs) for each BTU of natural gas consumed during the normal operation of a furnace.
A modern, superior-quality, high-efficiency gas furnace may have an AFUE rating of 95-98.5, which means that only a small percentage (1.5-5 percent) of the natural gas it consumes is wasted during the combustion process. The rest is converted directly into useful heat that can be distributed throughout your home. From a cost-benefit standpoint, a furnace with an AFUE rating of 98 would only produce two cents of waste for every dollar you spent on heating bills.
Many people choose to buy gas furnaces with AFUE ratings in the 78-81 range. These units are widely available and cost less than true high-efficiency models.
But folks who choose the cheaper option often fail to consider the savings that higher efficiency furnaces can bring. A furnace with an AFUE rating of 98 could save them up to 20 percent on their heating bills each and every month during the heating season, which can last for as long as six months in northern or mountainous regions.
Needless to say, over time savings like this can really add up, enough to make the high-efficiency furnace a much better investment in the long run.
If your existing furnace was purchased any time within the last 15 years, it should have a yellow label attached that will reveal its AFUE rating plus specific data about how much energy it might be saving you in comparison to less efficient models. If your furnace is older and has no such label, you can safely assume it is operating at far less than 80 percent efficiency and is needlessly costing you money.
The Importance of Furnace Maintenance
Unfortunately, AFUE ratings are only theoretical if regular furnace maintenance is not made a priority. Research shows that operating efficiency can drop by up to five percent for every year that basic furnace maintenance is neglected, so this is not a minor consideration.
Before every heating season, you should contact your HVAC contractor to schedule an appointment for a tune-up and maintenance. During these annual visits, a trained HVAC technician will clean, test and inspect your furnace and ductwork from top to bottom and everywhere in between, and if any additional repairs are needed they can be arranged at that time. Clean ductwork is essential for good air flow, and you shouldn’t forget about having your ducts checked from time to time.
Proper furnace maintenance is your responsibility as well, and you can contribute to the health of your appliance by changing your HVAC filters at the beginning of every heating season. Clogged filters will force furnaces to work harder, and that can cause your heating bills to climb rapidly. To guarantee reliable performance you should avoid cheap fiberglass filters, which get dirty quickly and don’t work efficiently even when they’re brand new.
Rheem Pro Partners is Pro-Energy-Efficiency
Furnace maintenance is a Rheem Pro Partners specialty, so we invite you to contact us today to arrange your annual tune-up and inspection. In Colorado and Wyoming we are the premier dealer of high-quality, high-efficiency gas furnaces from Rheem, the preeminent name in the HVAC industry, and if decide you’d like to purchase a new energy-efficient furnace we can help you select the best option for your home and budget.
Brrr! Why does the furnace quit on the coldest day of the year and always on a weekend?
We feel your pain! So, to help, here are a few things you can do to troubleshoot the problem before you have to call for an emergency repair.
Top 3 Reasons a Furnace Blows Cold Air
#1 – Your Thermostat Is in the ON Position
Your thermostat has an ON and AUTO switch that runs your blower. If the switch is in the ON position, then the blower keeps running, even when the furnace is not heating. As soon as the furnace cycles back on the air will warm up again. All you have to do is switch the thermostat to the AUTO position. Then, the blower only comes on when the furnace heats.
#2 – The Pilot Light Is Out
A gas furnace has a small pilot light that stays on all the time. When the furnace cycles on, then the pilot light provides the flame that lights the gas and warms the air. If the pilot light goes out, then there is nothing to light the gas that fires the furnace. Lighting a pilot light is not hard but there are a few safety measures you need to follow.
Never try to light a pilot light if you smell gas in the room. Call your gas company’s emergency line and they will send someone to inspect your furnace lines.
If you don’t smell gas, then find the pilot light assembly. Most furnaces have a sticker with instructions on how to light the pilot light. If yours does not, then try to locate the gas valve. Switch it to the PILOT setting. Hold a lighted match to the pilot opening. If there is a reset button on the control panel, hold the button until the pilot light burns. Once it is going, set the valve to the ON position. If the pilot light won’t stay lit, then you may have a faulty thermocouple or a dirty port. You can try cleaning the port with a piece of wire. If the thermocouple is bad, you will need to call a professional to make the repair.
Some furnaces have an electric starter instead of a pilot light. If you cannot find a pilot light, then an electric heating element is probably what ignites your furnace. When an element malfunctions, you will need to call an HVAC professional.
#3 – The Furnace Has Overheated
If you can’t get your furnace to blow any air, hot or cold, it’s possible it has overheated. Safeguards are in place that shut off the burners when the unit gets too hot. More often than not, the problem is a dirty air filter. Furnace filters should be checked frequently for dirt and debris. If you have pets you may find that you have to change out your filter as often as once a month. Once the air flow is no longer restricted and the unit cools down, the furnace should start blowing warm air.
If none of these fixes takes care of your furnace problems or you are not comfortable troubleshooting the issue, contact a professional. Rheem Pro Partners are HVAC experts and have been serving Colorado and Wyoming since 1992.
Most of us are accustomed to the sounds our furnaces make. We barely notice the hum of the blower running or the little pops from the air ducts. These are normal, but what about the noises that get our attention because they aren’t what we’re used to hearing? Sounds that are suddenly loud or increasingly loud over time, or have a different quality than the typical sounds could be a signal that it is time to call a professional for a repair or maintenance. Don’t ignore them. Delaying service could result in loss of service, more expensive repairs or premature replacement.
Here are three furnace noises you should never ignore:
1. Loud scraping sound
A scraping, metal-on-metal sound is likely a problem with the blower wheel. One possibility is that the wheel has come loose and is scraping against the blower casing. If caught early, before there is much damage, your HVAC professional can tighten the wheel. This is a relatively easy and inexpensive fix. Another possibility is that the blower wheel is broken and needs to be replaced. Lastly, the most serious cause would be that the motor mount has broken and the entire blower assembly has dropped so that it is hitting the housing.
2. Loud bang or pop when furnace turns on
3. Squealing or whining noise
Don’t let furnace noises keep you up at night! Contact a Rheem Pro Partner today in Colorado or Wyoming, to schedule your annual maintenance check, and sleep peacefully all winter long.
Choosing the right furnace for your home begins with evaluating several factors including heating requirements, existing ductwork and insulation, the size of your home and the number of levels, and, of course, your budget. Armed with that information, your HVAC professional can help you determine which type will best meet your needs: single stage furnace, 2-stage furnace or variable speed furnace.
Here is an overview of these three types:
1. Single-Stage Furnace
The single-stage furnace, also called a one-stage furnace, operates with only two settings: “on” or “off.” When it is on, it is at the maximum level of heat output, with no adjustment for how warm or cold it is outside or within different areas of your home. Because this type of furnace is always on “high,” it lags in energy efficiency behind the other options.
2. Two-Stage Furnace
The two-stage furnace is a step up in efficiency from the single-stage furnace, with two stages that allow for some adjustment for changes in temperature. Most (about 75%) of the time, this type of furnace operates in the first stage which is approximately 65-75% of the furnace’s capacity, saving on energy. When the temperature drops and more heat is needed, the second stage engages to meet the current heating requirements for as long as necessary. Once the temperature warms up again, operation returns to normal, so you are only paying for the additional energy when you need it. Because of the lower output most of the time, the furnace does run longer, but this also allows for more even heat distribution.Two-stage furnaces have quieter operation, are more efficient and are better for the environment.
3. Variable Speed Furnace
The variable speed furnace offers the most flexibility in terms of operation and energy use. Instead of stages, this furnace relies on a fan motor operating at different speeds to adjust the amount of heat output produced. Increased airflow results in greater comfort, because temperature is more consistent throughout the home, and better air quality because more air goes through the filter. Even when the furnace is not heating, air can continue to circulate, which actually reduces the need for it to turn on as often. This results in energy savings and lower utility bills. An added bonus: the variable speed furnace is quieter than the single-stage or two-stage furnaces.
Rheem manufactures all three types of furnace.