A guide to reducing home energy costs
and increasing comfort.
Improvements   >   Heating/Air Conditioning
Quick Fact

Excessive leakage in your ductwork substantially reduces the efficiency of your furnace and air conditioning systems.

Tankless water heaters operate better when the home has a soft water system.

Heating/Air Conditioning

Since heating and cooling our homes accounts for the largest single component of our energy costs (approximately 50%), it is helpful to have some facts and tips to select heating and cooling equipment.

Heating and cooling equipment are subject to efficiency ratings similar to miles per gallon comparisons in automobiles.  A gas furnace has an “AFUE” (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating, which is a measure of the gas furnace’s efficiency in converting fuel to energy – the higher the rating, the more efficient the unit. For example, a rating of 90 means approximately 90% of the fuel is used to provide warmth and comfort to your home, while the remaining 10% escapes as exhaust.  Variable speed furnaces are quieter and offer both gas and electric savings all year round.

A central air conditioning unit has a “SEER” (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating, which is a measure of cooling efficiency for air conditioners and heat pumps. Much like furnace efficiency, the higher the SEER, the more energy efficient the unit. In January of 2006, nothing less than a 13 SEER will be permitted for central air conditioning units sold in the United States. A programmable thermostat is another important component to heating and cooling efficiency.

Although efficiency ratings are a good consumer benchmark, high efficiency equipment without proper insulation, weatherization, and tight ductwork can be a bad investment with little or no return. Think of it this way – if you have several holes in your boat, would your first priority be plugging the holes or buying a better bilge pump?

Making the Right Choice

New high-efficiency furnaces and air conditioners can provide maximum comfort at minimum cost. Utilizing the latest technology, these new efficient models may also provide several other benefits besides savings and comfort.

Before purchasing your new heating and cooling system here are some things to consider:

  • Reliability
  • Durability
  • Sound levels (quiet operation)
  • Warranties, both original and extended
  • Maintenance agreements

With so many makes and models of equipment available, not to mention a large number of dealers and contractors, careful selection of the company to install your new equipment can be just as important as selecting the equipment. A highly
trained, experienced professional installer will test your duct system, analyze your comfort needs, and help determine the
right size system for you and your family’s comfort and budget. Because of safety concerns, cutting corners when selecting a qualified contractor or installer is not recommended.


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