Buyer’s Guide for Furnaces: Most Energy-Efficient Heating Options

Posted on: January 22, 2018

Energy-efficiency is an important factor today when it comes to buying major home appliances. Considering the fact that almost 50% of the home budget is expended on heating and cooling, the importance of energy-efficient heating becomes that more prominent. Energy-efficient appliances make a better use of the energy they consume, thus saving your money and saving the precious resources of our planet. In this post we will look into ways of making your home heating energy-efficient, but if you’d like personalized information and advice regarding your HVAC’s energy-efficiency, schedule your appointment with our team. Action AC is your trusted air conditioning & heating Valley Center expert. We are based in San Marcos, but we serve the entire greater area of San Diego.

How is energy efficiency measured when it comes to heating?

AFUE rating is used to measure furnace fuel efficiency. This is short for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. Consumers can see AFUE ratings on the yellow labels posted on new furnaces (electric, gas, oil, etc). These are Energy Guide labels. AFUE rating expresses an estimate of annual running costs for a furnace under certain conditions. Although these ratings cannot be taken as promises (they are estimates only), you can use them to compare different models of heating systems you are thinking of buying. AFUE ratings go from 80% (the required minimum today) to 98.5%. You can visualize it this way – with a furnace of 80% AFUE rating, 80 cents of every dollar you give for fuel is converted into heat, and 20 cents wasted.

If you are thinking of buying a heat pump, you can compare models using HSPF rating (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor). Heat pumps don’t use fuel, so they can’t use AFUE rating. HSPF is the heating equivalent of SEER rating which is used for air conditioning units. HSPF scale goes from 7.7 to 13.

Size affects energy efficiency of a system

Some homeowners are tempted to buy oversized heating systems because they think size translates to efficiency. That is not the case. The reality is that a vast majority of systems are most efficient when they run for longer periods of time.

If you get a heating system that is too big for your heating load, your system will achieve the desired temperature quicker, but it will run in short cycles, which will ramp up your utility bills. Heating (and air conditioning) systems spend most energy when they start operating. If the system short-cycles, it never reaches its peak efficiency.

In other words, an energy-efficient system which is too big for your needs will defeat its own purpose. It won’t save you money, nor will it improve your comfort (the temperature will constantly oscillate and there will be hot and cold spots).

Heat pumps may be the best choice for San Diego climate

Heat pumps are an extremely popular choice in Southern California. They don’t require any fuel, which makes them quite eco-friendly (admittedly, they do use electricity to operate). Given that there’s no fuel and no combustion, they are clean and don’t give off any hazardous gases (like gas furnaces). Finally, heat pumps can act as air conditioners in the summer, and heaters in winter. Our previous blog deals with heat pumps in detail.

If you are looking to install a new, energy-efficient heating system in the greater area of San Diego (which is the area Action AC serves), give serious thought to heat pumps. Winters in our corner of the world are mild and ideal for heat pumps. In some other regions heat pumps would require heat strips or furnace back-up because they can’t operate when the outside temperature falls below 30 degrees. This doesn’t make them very popular in Colorado, let’s say. But in Southern California, heat pumps are an excellent energy-efficient choice.

When you want to choose the most energy-efficient heat pump, compare the HSPF and SEER ratings. HSPF rating refers to their heating capacity, and SEER to cooling. The higher, the better.

Ways to improve energy efficiency of existing system

There are things you can do around your home that can improve the energy efficiency of your heating.

Get all the answers from heating Valley Center experts

Action AC is at your service, whether you live in Valley Center or anywhere else in San Diego metro area. If you are thinking of replacing an old heating system, looking to install one or simply to improve your comfort, call us and schedule an appointment with our team. We would love to come out and give you a fully personalized service and answers to all your questions. Our awards, positive reviews and repeat customers are a testament to our commitment to you. We offer you comprehensive heating and HVAC services, from installation and replacement to maintenance and servicing. Call us today!