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How Do I Ensure Efficiency Gains with Furnace Replacement?


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Are you considering furnace replacement because your old heater has quit or begun to show its age? Installing a new furnace can improve both comfort and your home’s overall efficiency, but this isn’t always so simple. Here, we’ll look at how to ensure it’s as energy efficient as the label says, and that you get the most out of your investment.

Energy Efficiency: How Modern and Traditional Furnaces Compare

Modern furnaces have a much higher annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) than older units. Some convert 90% or more of the energy in fuel consumed into heat. By comparison, an older heating system with a continuous pilot light may have a 56% to 70% AFUE rating. Today’s compact, mid-efficiency systems with electronic ignitions and exhaust fan controls are rated from 80% to 83% AFUE. Meanwhile, a high-efficiency sealed combustion system with a secondary heat exchanger can be up to 98.5% AFUE.

Maximizing Your Furnace’s Efficiency

With most modern furnaces, you can expect to get an AFUE of around 80%. But just because the furnace is rated for a certain efficiency level doesn’t mean that’s what you’re going to get. To optimize efficiency, consider these factors:

Install an Electric Furnace

An all-electric high-efficiency furnace can have an AFUE from 95% to 100%, as energy isn’t lost through the flue or chimney. Even if you have a 90% AFUE furnace, 10% of the energy consumed will escape up the chimney and other exit points, and that doesn’t factor in heat losses via air ducts or piping. But if electricity costs in your area are high, consider replacing your furnace with a heat pump, which can provide heating and cooling much more efficiently.

Size the Unit Before Furnace Replacement

Before installation, an HVAC technician should determine the ideal capacity for your home. Too small a furnace will run continuously, increasing energy usage and costs. If it’s too large, it will stop and start too frequently, using more fuel and energy. It also won’t run long enough to get your home comfortable. In both cases, the unit can be strained, which can result in higher repair costs over time.

Make Other Energy Efficiency Improvements

Your new furnace won’t be super efficient if your home isn’t energy efficient. There are several ways you can make improvements, including:

  • Add higher-quality insulation in the walls and attic.
  • Install energy-efficient windows with weatherstripping.
  • Seal cracks around windows and doors.
  • Get your ductwork cleaned and sealed.
  • Improve air circulation with supply vents.
  • Keep all vents and registers clean.

Turn Down the Thermostat

The greater the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures, the harder your furnace will work. It’ll run more frequently and for longer periods. Lowering the temperature setting on your thermostat can make a big difference. If you often set it to 74℉, try to get by at 70℉ or 68℉. A programmable thermostat lets you create a schedule; for example, set it lower for the eight hours you’re at work and another eight hours at night when you can cover up under blankets.

Set the Fan to “Auto” Mode

Running the fan continuously is less efficient, although it can decrease humidity and improve air quality. If these aren’t a concern, running the HVAC fan in “Auto” mode means it will only run when the furnace needs to blow warm air. Therefore, you can use less electricity.

Adjust the Motor Speed

Many high-efficiency furnaces have variable-speed blower motors. A variable-speed motor can be adjusted in increments, allowing for more precise adjustments. The ideal setting can prevent air pressure issues in ducts and the furnace from running longer than necessary. Consult with a technician for the ideal speed, as it can vary based on your home heating needs, the size of the duct system, and other factors.

Furnace Maintenance

Regular maintenance can avoid major repairs and breakdowns as well as put off furnace replacement. It can also help reduce operating costs. Your new furnace will be more efficient if you:

  • Change the filter regularly or when it is dirty.
  • Adjust the controls to get a balance of efficiency and comfort.
  • Check the integrity of vent connections, electrical parts, and the heat exchanger.
  • Avoid cluttering the area around the furnace.
  • Make sure all vents are unblocked.
  • Clean the burners, flame sensor, and blower.
  • Lubricate motor bearings and other moving parts.
  • Schedule annual inspections and tune-ups.

Call Waldrop for Furnace Replacement Help

We specialize in installing gas, oil, and electric furnaces in homes in Upstate South Carolina. Our highly-trained HVAC technicians can find the right system for your home while considering your budget and efficiency improvements. Sign up for our Family Service Plan to save on maintenance and repairs, and apply for flexible, affordable financing to get the upgrade you need. For help from our furnace installation specialists and to learn more about maximizing energy efficiency, call 864-536-0887 today.


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