What Furnace Efficiency Rating Means in Laymans Terms

What Does Furnace Efficiency Rating Mean in Layman’s Terms?

When it comes to choosing a new furnace, energy efficiency is a prime consideration for most homeowners. To determine the efficiency of a furnace, it is important to understand a little industry terminology.

Annual Fuel Efficiency Utilization Rating

Regardless of the fuel source, every furnace manufactured is evaluated and assigned an annual fuel efficiency utilization rating, also known as an AFEU rating. An independent organization within the HVAC industry determines this rating by calculating how much of the available fuel is actually used to heat your home versus how much is lost through venting. For example, a furnace with an AFEU of 90 percent will produce 90 BTUs of heat for every 100 BTUs of fuel input. The rating takes into consideration the normal cycling of the unit as well as energy losses that may occur as a result of load changes. In actual use, the AFEU can also be affected by adjustments that the homeowner makes to the unit and weather changes.

A Layman’s Explanation

A simpler explanation is to think of the AFEU in terms of money. For example, if you have a furnace that is 95 percent efficient, 95 cents out of every heating dollar is actually used to heat your home. The remainder is vented out through your flue. If your furnace is only 85 percent efficient, then you are losing 15 cents out of every heating dollar to venting. This means that even a relatively small change in the efficiency rating of your furnace can have a significant impact on your wallet and home comfort.

Department of Energy AFEU Standards

In 2015, the United States Department of Energy increased the minimum AFEU standards for new furnaces. All new furnaces sold in the United States must meet the following standards.

  • Gas boilers must have a minimum AFEU of 84 percent.
  • Weatherized gas furnaces and oil-fired boilers are required to have a minimum AFEU of 83 percent.
  • Oil-fired furnaces have a minimum standard of 82 percent.
  • Mobile home gas furnaces and non-weatherized gas furnaces must have an efficiency rating of at least 80 percent.

Furnaces manufactured before 1992 may have an efficiency rating as low as 70 percent.

Choosing an Energy Efficient Furnace

Furnaces that carry the Energy Star logo offer the highest level of efficiency. The following are features that you should look for to make sure your furnace is as efficient as possible.

  • Choosing a unit with an electric ignition can improve efficiency by as much as 6 percent by eliminating the need for a continuously burning pilot light.
  • A furnace equipped with a secondary heat exchanger allows you to capture the hot vent gases that normally escape through the flue to preheat the household air.
  • Furnaces can lose heat through the walls of the furnace cabinet. Energy efficient models will have a blanket of insulation lining the cabinet to prevent heat loss.
  • An induced-draft blower will ensure proper venting and keep heated gases moving through the heat exchanger at a constant rate; however, it will shut off when the burner cycles off to keep the heated air in the system.
  • You can reduce the amount of heat escaping the furnace by using a smaller diameter flue pipe.
  • A furnace with sealed combustion chambers will allow less heat to escape through the chimney.

The Benefits of a High-efficiency Furnace

It is true that you will probably pay more for a high-efficiency furnace; however, you will most likely recoup the cost in the long-run in the form of lower operating costs. Since many of today’s home buyers are concerned about energy efficiency, upgrading your furnace may even enhance the resale value of your home. In 2012, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy issued a report detailing cost savings in relation to the AFEU rating of a home’s heating system. The report showed that if you currently have a system that is only 50 percent efficient that you could save up to $47 out of every $100 spent on heating by upgrading to a furnace with an AFEU of 95 percent.

Furnace and Boiler Replacement in Denver, CO

Swan Plumbing, Heating & Air is proud to be Denver’s home comfort experts. If you are looking to replace your old, inefficient furnace or boiler, you can rely on our trusted professionals to make the process hassle-free. You will receive our price up front and in writing with no high-pressure sales tactics. We also bill by the project and not by the hour, so there will be no unpleasant surprises. We realize that a new heating system is a major financial investment, and we are happy to offer financing plans to suit almost every budget and situation. You can rest assured that the job will be completed correctly, and we do not consider the job finished until you are 100 percent satisfied. We carry furnaces from all of the top manufacturers, and our industry-certified technicians can help you determine which brand and model will be best for your home and family.

Contact us today for more information or to schedule an in-home evaluation. We look forward to the opportunity to serve you.

The Real Cost of Cheap Furnace Repair in Denver

How Much Cheap Furnace Repair Will Really Cost You in Denver

Many homeowners think that just because a service company has dozens of employees and is highly visible around town that the company is successful and can be trusted to perform quality work. A couple of recent incidents have proven that this is not always the case.

A couple of well-known, long-standing Denver heating and air companies have recently had to close their doors due to financial problems. This may have been a surprise to their customers; however, industry professionals around town could see the writing on the wall. These particular companies were well-known for offering prices for furnace repairs that were well below those of their competition. The owners of these companies were under the assumption that they could make up for their lower prices in volume. When this was not enough, these companies also started lowering their prices for furnace installations, air conditioning repair, and other services. This move eventually led to these companies having to shut their doors and their customers having to figure out what to do if they have issues with their furnace.

The following are a few of the reasons why price should not be your primary consideration in choosing a furnace repair and installation service:

Improper Repairs

Companies that promise prices that are far below the market average often cut corners when it comes to employee training and certification. This can result in poorly executed repairs that will not solve your original problem and may even cause new issues to develop with your system.

Return Visits

Many low-cost contractors do not guarantee their work. When you have to call the company back several times to solve the same problem, you are shouldered with the burden of the extra expense and wasted time.

Poor Advice

A reputable service company takes pride in educating its customers in how to maintain their HVAC system in order to prevent problems, how to know when service is needed, and how to make their home more energy efficient. Technicians from low-cost contractors typically do not have the training, experience, and knowledge to offer this kind of advice. Less scrupulous companies may even try to steer customers in the wrong direction in order to make more money.

Low-Cost is Often More Expensive in the End

Choosing the cheapest contractor will often cost you more in the long run when you take into account the repeated services calls, increased utility bills, and repeated system breakdowns.

No Guarantee of Follow-up Support

Even the best HVAC system occasionally needs service and repair. When this situation arises, you need to know that the company that performed the installation will be there for support. If you choose a low-cost contractor, you are taking a risk that the company will not be around to support the warranty on the equipment or that shoddy workmanship many even negate parts of your manufacturer’s warranty leaving you to pay the cost of the repairs.

Tips for Choosing a Furnace Repair Company

Your family’s comfort is dependent upon finding a skilled technician to diagnose and repair your furnace problem. The following guide can help you narrow the field.

  • Look for a company that is licensed and bonded and offers technicians with years of experience in the industry.
  • You should take the time to check out the company’s online customer reviews. It is also a good idea to ask for customer references that you can contact about their experience with the company.
  • Contact the Better Business Bureau to see if the company has a pattern of complaints.
  • Ask for in-person estimates from multiple contractors.
  • Make sure all estimates are in writing and provide a detailed breakdown of all charges.
  • If one estimate is significantly higher or lower than the others, ask the contractor for a justification. If the reason does not make sense, it is best to walk away.
  • Make sure that all work is guaranteed and that all equipment comes with a warranty.
  • Make sure that all warranties and guarantees are in writing and that the service contract clearly outlines your options in the event that you are dissatisfied or have a problem.

Why You Should Choose Swan Home Comfort Experts

We are family-owned and operated. Our customers are our neighbors, so we are dedicated to providing professional service to Denver homeowners using highly-trained technicians and quality parts and equipment. We ensure that all of our trucks are properly equipped to handle your situation correctly and efficiently. All of our technicians have Environmental Protection Agency and North American Technician Excellence certifications. Before being hired, all of our technicians also undergo drug screening and extensive background checks for your safety.

We stand behind our service by offering a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee, and we will provide you with a straightforward, written estimate. Our team is available 24/7 for emergency calls, and we guarantee same day service.

At Swan, our mission is to be Denver’s most trusted HVAC service provider. If your HVAC system is in need of routine maintenance or emergency service, contact us for an estimate or to schedule a service call. We look forward to serving you and your family.

10 Fall Pro-Tips to Prepare Your Home for Winter in Denver, Colorado

10 Fall Pro-Tips To Prepare Your Home for Winter

Fall is a great time of year. The hot days of summer are winding down and the leaves are beginning to fall. Fall brings some of our favorite holidays but it is also the time to begin thinking about ensuring that our homes are ready for colder temperatures. Here are some top tips that will keep your home cozy when the winter winds start to blow.

1. Clean the gutters: This is important all year and particularly in the fall because of falling leaves which can clog drains and downspouts. Rain or melting snow, depending on where you live, can cause the leaves to clump together. When the gutters cannot drain the water has to go somewhere. Eventually it will end up running down the side of your home. This can cause the ground around the foundation to erode and moisture can seep inside. One solution many people are choosing to eliminate the need to clean gutters several times a year is the installation of leaf guards. They are made of a plastic mesh and they simply snap into the gutters to keep leaves from piling up and causing problems.

2. Have your HVAC system checked: Your heating and air conditioning system should be checked twice a year in the spring and fall. Preventative maintenance can save you expensive repair costs later. Filters should be changed on a regular basis. When they are dirty and dusty your system works harder to maintain the set temperature. Making certain that there are no leaks or loose joints around the ducts is essential to keep the warm air from escaping. A programmable thermostat can help as well. The temperature can be set a few degrees cooler when no one is home and programmed to come on and raise the temperature so it is warm and cozy when everyone gets home. This can result in a savings on your energy costs.

3. Turn the Water Heater Down: Most water heaters are set at 140 degrees when installed. Water heaters account for about 18% of your energy costs and setting them to 120 degrees can result in a big savings. It won't have to work as hard to maintain 120 degrees compared to 140 degrees which means it will last longer before it needs replaced. This can also help to reduce the risk of accidental burns for young children and the elderly.

4. Reverse the Direction of your Ceiling Fans: Most ceiling fans have a switch to reverse the direction of the blades. Instead of blowing down or counterclockwise set them to run on low clockwise during the winter. This will pull the cool air up and push the warm air that rises to the ceiling down to keep the room warm. This can help to reduce your heating costs as well.

5. Curtains and Blinds can Insulate: If you use heavy curtains or drapes that are insulated they can offer the added protection of stopping heat loss. The will reduce drafts that are often noticed around windows in the winter. Blinds can help as well. Both can be opened during the day to let sunlight in which helps to warm rooms. Lower them at dusk and the room will be warmer and it will help to save on heating costs.

6. Insulate Pipes: This is one of the most important things you can do to keep from paying thousands for repairs. There are various ways to do this including foam that is made especially for pipes. Insulating tape is another method. Don't forget inside pipes that are not in heated areas of the home such as the garage or a crawl space. Frozen pipes can burst and flood your home causing a lot of damage and costing a lot of money.

7. Drain Outdoor Hoses and Water Lines: Frozen garden hoses can cause an interior pipe to burst. The water that freezes in the hose will expand and this increases the pressure on the entire plumbing system. They need to be drained and disconnected. The faucets they are attached to should be drained as well. Faucet insulators can be installed to help protect them. Don't forget sprinkler lines. They should be blown out to prevent bursting and the need to replace them when summer arrives.

8. Check for Drafts: Under doors and around windows are the number one places you will feel cold air seep in when the weather turns chilly. In addition to making you feel cold, they can add to your heating costs. Caulking and weatherstripping can be used for cracks around windows and door frames to stop the cold air. Placing a rolled up towel in front of your door is one solution if you feel cold air coming from underneath. Since the door is used quite a bit, just tuck it firmly into place when you are in for the night.

9. Sweaters for Winter: A heavy sweater can actually make you feel 4 degrees warmer. Even a light sweater with long sleeves will result in added warmth of 2 degrees. Put on your sweater, turn the thermostat down a couple of degrees and you will still be cozy. A couple of throws on the sofa to snuggle under while watching television can help and save money on heating costs as well.

10. Heating System Upgrade: If your heating system is 10 years old or older you could be spending a lot more than you realize on heating. An old furnace can cost 50% more to keep your home warm than a new more energy-efficiency model. It will at least save you from 15% to 20% which is quite a bit when you consider how high heating costs can be in the winter. Additionally you reduce the risk of it breaking down in the middle of winter. If this happens your home is going to be at risk from the cold temperatures and since this is a busy time of year for repairmen you may have trouble finding someone to install a new one.