How often do you think about your car’s energy efficiency? Every time my car runs out of fuel, and I go to the gas station, I think of the last time I got it refueled. I think of how much distance I must have driven. I reflect on my expenses, and if the mileage goes more down, I immediately get my car serviced. We all do it. Don’t we? In fact, an average middle-class family buys a car not by design or cutting edge technology it offers but on the basis of what mileage it offers.
When we measure the efficiency of our car so carefully, what happens to us while measuring the effectiveness of our furnace? Do we stop caring about the money? Or do we give in to the fact that we can’t possibly do anything about it? Well, you can.
Here’s how you can make your furnace energy efficient.
1. Know about AFUE ratings of your furnace
Start thinking about the energy efficiency of your furnace right before the purchase. Don’t worry if you’re past that phase; I have great tips for you as well. But if you’re too sick of frequent furnace repair and want to replace your furnace, you must know about the annual fuel utilization efficiency of a furnace.
It’s a measure of how much heat a furnace produces for a given amount of fuel. For example, a furnace with 70% AFUE converts 70% of the fuel into heat that gets circulated through air ducts. The remaining 30% is lost in the conversion process. For a layman like you or me, that 30% is the amount of fuel it wastes. Hey! That’s the extra amount of gas/electricity bill you pay every month you use your furnace.
As I mentioned, if you already own a furnace that was installed years ago, the point is of no relevance to you. But if you’re buying a new furnace or bought one in the recent years, you can easily find out about the AFUE ratings. It’s mandatory for any furnace manufacturer to disclose the ratings on the product and also, have at least 80% AFUE ratings.
The higher number you can achieve, the better it is. Of course, the product cost will increase with higher AFUE ratings, but you can easily cover up the cost in a few years. For example, if you buy a furnace with very high AFUE ratings like 95-98%, you can save about $100 per year. Do the math and see how much you will save during the lifetime of your furnace (which is usually 10-15 years).
You will never know what exactly you spend as furnace running cost, but you can always save some bucks by being smarter. Now, if you already have a furnace and want to make it an energy efficient furnace, read the following.
2. Stop the air leaks
Do you know that about 20% of the heat produced by your furnace gets wasted due to leaks? A minor crack in your ductwork is enough to make your furnace work harder and utilize more fuel and increase your energy bill.
You need to fix such problems in the ductwork. In fact, dirty ducts are also a cause of reduced energy efficiency of your HVAC system. Go for air duct cleaning and also hire a professional to inspect the ducts for any kinds of cracks or leaks. I know it’s highly unlikely for a homeowner to have such an inspection just like that. We’re all plain lazy (and it is good). But if your energy bill has suddenly increased as compared to previous few years, you better act.
Working on your home’s insulation is also a task I’ll recommend. It will help you in both – winter and summer season. There are cracks in doors and windows that cause heat loss (or loss of cold air in summer). Fix it.
3. Adapt to less warm environment
Here’s a task that’s truly for the lazy people. Do nothing. Just keep your thermostat two degrees lower than you usually do. Truthfully, two degrees low temperature wouldn’t make much difference. You won’t freeze in your house or shiver or even feel cold with that slight change. But on the other hand, your heating system will have to work lesser than usual. It’s a great start to saving some money on the heating bills. Try it!
4. Clean the furnace
I won't recommend that you do it yourself, but anyhow, you need regular furnace repair and maintenance. If not everything, just change the filter. It truly does the work it literally means. It filters the air in your house and traps all the dust particles. If you have a dog, you’ll be surprised to see half of its fur on your filter (not exactly but still) after as less as two weeks. You can also call furnace repair service for the tune-up.
Let’s keep this post as a manual for lazy people to improve the energy efficiency of their furnace. Just four steps to follow and you can save as much as $100 per year. Does that sound good?