Posts Tagged ‘Energy Efficiency’

6 Ways to Improve Your Energy Efficiency

Monday, March 30th, 2020

With everyone spending a lot more time at home as of late, it means that more of us are going to be depending on our homes to be the optimal, energy efficient havens we need them to be. This can be a little easier said than done though, with the use of home systems going up throughout the day.

We know that those of us living in Portland are always looking to find ways to boost our home energy efficiency and, while our day to day patterns might be shifting, that goal doesn’t have to change. In en effort to help you with your goal of being energy efficient, we’ve compiled a small list of ways to boost your household energy efficiency without having to reduce your home comfort.

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Why AFUE Ratings Matter For Your Heating Installation

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

When you are in the market for a new furnace for your Newberg home, there are several reasons you should pay attention to the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating. All newer model furnaces get an AFUE percentage, which measures how much fuel a particular model converts into heat. Furnaces with higher AFUE ratings are more efficient, but the size and type of furnace will also factor into how much you’ll save on energy costs.

Understanding the AFUE Ratio

The minimum AFUE rating for new furnaces is 78%. This means that seventy-eight percent of the fuel is turned into heat, and the remaining percentage is lost either through poor insulation, air leaks, or the ventilation system in the home. Because there’s no heat loss through a chimney flue, some all-electric furnaces can have an AFUE rating as high as 98%. However, if the cost of electricity used to meet your normal heating needs is higher than the efficiency savings, you may want to consider other options. Talk to a qualified HVAC contractor for advice about the most cost-efficient heater for your home.

Furnace Efficiency Features

Furnaces manufactured 15-20 years ago have significantly lower AFUE ratings (between 55%-70% for most older models) because they are typically single-stage, or single-speed systems. Single-stage furnaces are less efficient because they are designed to cycle on at full capacity and shut off when the desired temperature is met.  Newer, two-speed models have a second setting that runs consistently at a lower speed, which saves energy by burning less fuel. Multispeed furnaces that have variable-speed blowers are the most efficient because they operate at various levels and automatically adjust to the thermostat to maintain a constant temperature.

If you look at the AFUE ratings for multispeed and variable-speed furnaces, the ratios should be above 80%. Keep in mind that this only determines the efficiency levels for the furnace itself. You’ll need to factor in whether or not your home has proper insulation and other upgrades, such as double-paned windows and doors.

Call The Clean Air Act Inc. to speak with one of our qualified HVAC technicians about a furnace upgrade for your Newberg home.

Comparing High-Efficiency and Mid-Efficiency Furnaces

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Whenever you are in the market for a new furnace for your Hubbard home, there are many models to choose from.  Many of the furnaces manufactured within the last few years are high-efficiency furnaces with a high AFUE rating (AFUE measures the amount of fuel the furnace converts into heat). When people refer to a mid-efficiency furnace, they are usually talking about older furnaces.

Single-stage furnaces were considered to be an efficient heating system when they were manufactured, but compared to newer furnaces, they use up a lot more energy than they need to. Single-speed furnaces are designed to run at full capacity until the temperature inside the home reaches the thermostat setting. After they shut off, the home not only loses heat, but the furnace will also take longer and burn more fuel when it cycles on again.

Newer, two-speed and multispeed models run consistently at lower speeds, and the ones with variable-speed blowers are even more efficient because they can operate at various levels. These models will also automatically adjust to the thermostat to maintain a constant temperature, which saves energy by keeping the home at a consistent temperature so that there’s little heat loss.

When shopping for a new furnace, keep in mind that the AFUE ratings for multispeed and variable-speed furnaces only determine the efficiency of the actual furnace. If you are upgrading your old, mid-efficiency furnace to a high-efficiency furnace, you should make sure that your Hubbard home is properly insulated and sealed.  You could also consider upgrading any older doors and windows to more efficient double-paned ones, or you can also install storm doors and windows.

Troubleshooting Your Furnace’s Air Flow Problems

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Whenever you notice furnace air flow problems in your Mulino home, you can usually do a little troubleshooting and solve the issue on your own. Most air flow problems can be fixed easily and quickly. Here are a few guidelines to get you started, but if you need help or notice other problems with your furnace, call a qualifiedThe Clean Air Act Inc. heating technician.

Furnace Filters:
Checking the furnace filter is the first step you should take when there are any issues with your furnace, but especially with air flow problems. If a filter is dirty enough, the furnace will not come on at all. Ultimately, a clogged or dirty filter restricts the air flow, and this is the source of air flow problems ninety percent of the time.

Supply Registars and Cold Air Returns:
Once you’ve replaced or cleaned the filter, check your cold air returns, which are the vents that draw in the cold air in forced air systems. When a cold air return is blocked  by furniture or other obstructions, they cannot draw in enough air to allow the furnace to put out an adequate amount of hot air. Make sure they are open if nothing is blocking them.

Next, check your supply registers, which are the vents that supply the warm air, and make sure they are open as well. Whenever your heat is on, all of your supply registers should be open. Closing some vents will not increase the air flow in other vents in the house. Closing off one or two in areas where heat is not always needed will not hurt your system; however, when you close too many supply registers, it can cause problems with the ductwork and eventually damage the furnace if the air pressure is not correct.

Clean Your Vents:
You should have a qualified Mulino HVAC technician professionally clean your ducts and vents at least once a year, which is another reason it’s important to schedule annual maintenance visits. A professional cleaning is typically part of the yearly heating system inspection. You can help by vacuuming your vents regularly, particularly during the months the heating system is not in use, or at least before you turn it on in the fall. Simply cleaning your vents can help air flow and extend the life of your entire heating system.

If you continue to experience air flow problems, call a certified heating technician at The Clean Air Act Inc.. There could be a more serious issue, or if you have a newer furnace, your original ductwork could be the wrong size for that furnace model.

How Efficient are Heat Pumps for AC and heating?

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Heat pumps are actually remarkably efficient when compared to some of the home heating alternatives out there in Portland. Especially if you’re already using electricity to heat your home, you can get generate huge savings on your monthly energy bills by switching to a heat pump system.

As their name suggests, heat pumps remove heat from the air and transfer that heat from one area to another. That means that in the winter, your heat pump will remove the heat from the air outside your home and pump that heat in to heat your home. During the summer months, that process is actually reversed, and heat pumps are able to cool your home by collecting the heat from your indoor air and pumping it outside.

Since heat pumps are actually just moving heat from one place to another rather than generating it all on their own, they don’t require much energy at all to operate. While you can buy furnaces that are as much as 97% energy efficient, they’re still using more energy than a heat pump would. The fact that the furnace is turning the vast majority of the energy that it uses into heat doesn’t mean that it still doesn’t require more energy to operate.

Just because heat pumps are more efficient than many other types of heating systems, you can’t just assume that all heat pumps are equally energy efficient. Just as different types and models of furnaces have different energy efficiency ratings, so too do the many types, sizes and models of heat pumps. Make sure you thoroughly compare your options before you settle on the right system for your home.

The energy efficiency rating of a furnace is easy to recognize, as each of them comes with a standard AFUE rating. If you’re looking to switch to heat pumps, however, it’s easy to get confused when you’re trying to compare the energy efficiency of various models.

Heat pumps actually have two separate measurements for energy efficiency. These are the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) and the heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). Energy efficiency measurements for heat pumps reflect both the cooling and heating efficiency of the system, and so what’s best for you may vary depending on what you’re more likely to use your heat pump for. If you have any questions, contact your local contractor.