Governments, HVAC professionals, and bill payers of households are preaching the importance of making a furnace and air-conditioner more energy efficient. While many people believe that in order for a householder to gain maximum energy utilization, you would need to purchase a new ‘green’ HVAC system. While that will give you the best results, the truth is you can transform almost any heating system on the right side of 15 years old into a high efficiency furnace…and here’s how:
Replace That Filter
By far the #1 hindrance to a unit becoming a high efficiency furnace is a dirty, outdated filter. With forced air heating and cooling systems the main component needed is air flow. A filter is designed to catch the dirt and debris from intake so that pure air is flowing through the duct work of your home. As the filter catches more and more gunk, the air can barely make it through what essentially becomes a solid surface. A clogged filter makes the furnace work that much harder with less air to warm the system and in turn results in longer and more frequent cycles. Energy bills go up, the air that does get through is dirty, and the air-conditioner will ultimately die out before its due time. Instead of paying thousands of dollars purchasing a new furnace, you can spend about $4-$10 and 3 minutes of your time replacing the filter.
Thermostat Upgrade and Proper Use
Programmable thermostats can cost as little as $50 to purchase and install which can in turn transform your HVAC into a high-efficiency furnace by automatically lowering the temperature at night and while you’re not at home. Programmable thermostats also have less fluctuation in temperature and won’t cause the furnace to work hard to make up 10-15 degrees on a whim. Proper use involves setting the thermostat (programmable or not) to a lower temperature as you leave the house or go to bed.
Annual Furnace Inspection
Having a trained HVAC technician clean and inspect the system once a year can result in a high efficiency furnace and may be required anyway to maintain some manufacturer warranties. Clean and lubricated parts simply work better and last longer while an inspection can lead to early identification of malfunctioning parts. The inspection can also include a pressure test to make sure there are no leaks in the ductwork causing lost heat.
Insulate and Seal Home
One of the main things that cause a furnace to frequently cycle and lose efficiency is heat loss through gaps in windows and doors. Sealing up these holes, as well as upgrading home insulation, is relatively inexpensive and will have instantly noticeable improvements in home heating bills.
There will inevitably come a time when the upgrade to a new high efficiency furnace will be mandatory but until then some simple around the house improvements and practices can bridge the gap.