The average furnace life span is approximately 15 years. While the equipment may last that long or even longer, it's likely that your heating bills are higher than they need to be. Components break down and all furnaces lose their efficiency over time.
Factors to consider
- Age of the system – If it’s over 12 years old, it's most likely time to replace
- Extent of existing problems – whether recent repairs have been minor or extensive and costly
- Size of unit – Is the current system over or under-sized for your home? This can lead to premature failure.
- Frequency of repairs
- Efficiency Rating
Investing in a new furnace in this year could be one of the best decisions you make! Here’s why: Efficiency standards for all heating and cooling units sold in the United States are regulated by the U.S. Department of Energy. Every heater, air conditioner and heat pump is assigned one of these efficiency ratings.
For gas or oil-fired furnaces, the Average Fuel Utilization Efficiency rating (AFUE) is the standard measure of seasonal efficiency. The AFUE rating is given as a percentage, indicating how much fuel is used to heat your home and how much fuel is wasted.
High-efficiency furnaces, like those that are ENERGY STAR certified, have AFUE ratings of 95% or above. This means that the furnace converts 95% of the fuel that you supply to heat your home - the remaining 5% is lost out of the chimney. Furnaces that are over 10 years old could have an AFUE somewhere around 60%, meaning you could save up to 40% on your gas or oil heating bill by replacing it with a new, high -fficiency furnace!
Save even more with Furnace Rebates
Massachusetts residents have an opportunity for additional savings when replacing their heating and cooling system. Mass Save offers rebates on the purchase and installation of residential heating and cooling equipment that meets certain energy-efficiency specifications.
In addition to lower energy use and improved comfort for your Burlington area home, you may be eligible to receive rebates on the following equipment types:
- Central Air Conditioning/Heat Pumps
- Mini-Split Heat Pumps
If you purchased an ENERGY STAR certified gas furnace in 2016, it will meet the requirements for the Federal Furnace Tax Credit. All other ENERGY STAR Federal tax credits expired at the end of 2016.
Don't Ignore the Warning Signs
Are you noticing odd sounds coming from the furnace? Does it seem colder in the house than last winter? Maybe the pilot keeps going out. Don't wait - call for a check-up now.
Winter will be over in a couple of months, you say. You’ll be shutting the furnace down for a long stretch, so why deal with calling for repairs, right? WRONG. Repairs should always be done at the earliest possible time so the problem will not have the opportunity to worsen.
When you decide to get a new furnace, the best course of action is to call in a certified professional to calculate the correct type of furnace you need, and the one that will keep your home heated effectively and efficiently all season long.
All Total Comfort Mechanical systems, accessories and products are installed with a dedication to quality and reliability. Whether you choose to make repairs or replace your system, you can expect to receive Total Comfort for your home and family.
Save money on your summer energy bill with these HVAC Tips
Did you know that about half of the energy consumed in the United States is for heating and cooling alone?
Keeping your Massachusetts home air-conditioned and comfortable can be expensive, especially when everyone is trying to beat the sweltering summer heat and energy consumption is high. The good news is there are actually some very simple things you can do to stay cool without having to empty your wallet for energy bills!
1) Don’t forget the Filter
This is one of the easiest things to do yet one of the most commonly overlooked. Filters should be replaced regularly, so make it a habit by keeping a supply of filters on hand. Actually, the number one reason for HVAC system failure is dirt. Properly maintained equipment lasts longer and keeps the system running more efficiently. Filters should be changed every:
- 3 months on a 1" pleated filter
- 6 months on a 5" media air cleaner
It's also helpful to invest in a HVAC Maintenance plan, as many include free filter changes with membership.
2) Get in the Shade
Burlington MA is located in the "temperate" area on the US Dept. of Energy's climate region map. Unlike the hot and arid Southwest and hot and humid Southeast, energy-saving landscaping strategies for this area must be balanced - keeping heat out in summer and keeping it in during winter months.
Adding more trees and bushes to your home's exterior not only provides a more beautiful landscape, but can considerably block the amount of solar heat beaming on the roof and through the windows. All that heat makes your air conditioning system work harder. Strategically place vegetation so that it shades the roof, east and west facing walls.
If the outdoor air conditioning unit itself receives some shading from trees and shrubbery, it can also improve your HVAC system effectiveness up to 10%!
3) Upgrade your Thermostat
If you are reading this article on a smartphone and you don’t have a digital programmable thermostat yet, you should be embarrassed! Advanced technology can help you save energy and reduces costs by giving you precise control over temperature, humidity, air treatment, scheduling and more.
Smart and relatively inexpensive, Digital Programmable Thermostats allow you to adjust the settings for a higher temperature when no one's home or during cooler parts of the day.
On the go and want to change the settings? You can even connect to your system from almost anywhere via Wi-Fi.
4) Turn off ceiling fans when not in use
Keeping a ceiling fan running all the time, even when the room is unoccupied really doesn’t keep the room cooler. Though they do help circulate air, ceiling fans have no effect on the temperature of the area. They simply redistribute already conditioned (or unconditioned) air and make it feel cooler because it's creating a breeze against your body. Prevent wasted electricity by turning them off when leaving a room.
5) Go Underground
Naturally cooler than the rest of the home, a basement can provide instant relief on a hot day. If your home has a basement, why not convert it into a summer family room or hangout?
Be sure to keep basement windows and doors closed during steamy summer weather to avoid excess condensation which increases indoor humidity. Humidity levels however can be controlled with a number of whole-home humidity control solutions that are designed to work together to use energy as efficiently as possible.
6) Make sure vents are clean and open
It may be obvious but it is truly remarkable what you may not notice about your own home. Vents can be accidentally shut for cleaning purposes and never reopened. If you notice an unusually warm room or area in your home, don’t forget to check the vent.
7) Replace old air conditioning units with newer, efficient models
If you have an older unit that has not been properly maintained, investing in a new and more energy-efficient model. The replacement costs are well worth it in the long run. See this guide to determine if you should repair or replace your heating and cooling system.
When you’re faced with the choice between replacing and repairing part or all of your heating and cooling system, rely on a trusted HVAC contractor like Total Comfort Mechanical to help you find a solution that’s affordable, keeps your family comfortable and makes sense in the long-term.
8) Get a Tune-up!
Regular maintenance allows minor repairs to be caught before they become major, costly replacements. To be absolutely certain you are obtaining optimal efficiency from your home's central air conditioning system, schedule an AC tune-up. This includes a check of multiple factors to ensure all air conditioning system components are operating properly and that the system is meeting the manufacturer’s expectations for efficiency. Failing parts can be identified in advance to prevent unexpected equipment breakdown.
Turn off ceiling fans when not in use
Some people believe that keeping a ceiling fan running all the time, even when the room is unoccupied, will keep the room cooler than if turned off. While they do help circulate air, ceiling fans have no effect on the temperature of the area. They simply redistribute already conditioned (or unconditioned) air and make it feel cooler because it's creating a breeze against your body. Leaving the fan on while the room is empty will not make the room any cooler upon your return. Turn them off when leaving a room to prevent wasted electricity.
Go Green (and not the way you're thinking, either)
We're talking actual green in color - whatever shades appeal to you : forest green, emerald green, moss or fir. Adding more trees and bushes to your home's exterior not only provides a more beautiful landscape, but can considerably block the amount of solar heat beaming on the roof and through the windows. All that heat makes your air conditioning system work harder. In addition, if the air conditioning unit itself receives shading from trees or shrubbery, it can improve your AC's effectiveness up to ten percent!
Massachusetts lies in the "temperate" area on the US Dept. of Energy's climate region map. Unlike the hot and arid Southwest and hot and humid Southeast, energy-saving landscaping strategies for this area must be balanced - keeping heat out in summer and keeping it in during winter months (see more at Landscape for Life).
Get with the Program...
...with a digital programmable thermostat (DPT)! Smart and relatively inexpensive, DPT's allow you to adjust the settings for a higher temperature when no one's home or during cooler parts of the day. With today's technologically-advanced controls you can truly set it and forget it, and even manage your home's central air conditioning system via mobile device. (Side note to self: if you're reading this article on a smartphone and you still don't have a digital t-stat yet, you should be embarrassed.)
Chill Out Down Under
If your home has a basement, why not convert it into a summer family room or hangout? Naturally cooler than the rest of the home, the basement can provide instant relief on a hot day. Be careful about opening basement windows though, especially during very hot and humid weather. Damp, tropical air can cause surface condensation which will increase indoor humidity as well.
To be absolutely certain you are obtaining optimal efficiency from your home's A/C system, schedule a system maintenance check with us. We will check multiple factors to ensure all air conditioning system components are operating properly, that the system is meeting the manufacturer’s expectations for efficiency, and recommend alternatives if not.
How to keep your central air conditioning system running efficiently
Our customers and subscribers have asked for suggestions on how to reduce the energy costs associated with home cooling during the summer months. To help, we’ve compiled this list for easy reference, and to easily share with friends and family, too!
Looking for ways to beat the heat? July has been a scorcher in Burlington, and neighboring Massachusetts areas it looks like August will bring more of the same.
Try these tips to keep your air conditioning system running efficiently:
- Replace filters regularly! This is one of the easiest things to do yet one of the most commonly overlooked. Filters should be replaced monthly, so make it a habit by keeping a supply of filters on hand.
- Set your thermostat and leave it. Pick a temperature that you are comfortable with (perhaps 75°) and keep it at a constant setting. Turning the thermostat down doesn’t affect the temperature of the air blowing out of your vents. It makes the system run longer, not colder.
- Keep curtains, drapes and blinds closed, especially on the west-facing side of your house.
- Shade your air conditioner. Your unit works harder if it is in an area that receives full sun.
- Don’t block the AC unit. Keep air flow free from obstructions.
- Keep household appliances that produce heat far away from your thermostat. You don’t want an adjacent TV or water heater to contribute to a false thermostat temperature.
- Caulk around window frames to seal any leaks and check weather stripping.
- Invest in a few good ceiling fans or some smaller portable fans. Fans provide evaporative cooling as you sweat. If you buy a ceiling fan with lights, opt for those with Compact Fluorescent Lamps (pin-type) CFL’s, which last up to 15 times as long as incandescent bulbs.
- If your home has a fireplace, don’t send cool air up the chimney – close the damper and shut glass doors.
- Schedule regular service on your air conditioning system. Your system’s refrigerant charge needs to be checked annually, and the AC unit needs to be cleaned professionally. A/C Maintenance ensures your system is running at peak efficiency.
If you are concerned about obtaining optimal efficiency from your Air Conditioning system, be sure to schedule an A/C system maintenance check with your HVAC contractor. A professional will check multiple factors to ensure all air conditioning system components are operating properly, and that the system is meeting the manufacturer’s expectations for efficiency.