Greater Comfort, Lower Heating Bills, a Cleaner Environment
You don't need to be an engineer to make your heating system run more efficiently. Most of the steps outlined here are simple, common-sense actions that involve little time, money or effort on your part. Yet, a few simple actions can greatly improve energy efficiency, make a big difference to your personal comfort and save you money.
How a Home Heating System Works
All central heating systems have three basic components: a heat source (the furnace), a circulatory system (the ductwork) and an on/off switch (the thermostat). All three work together to keep your home warm.
When the temperature in your home drops below the setting on your thermostat, it activates the burner in your furnace. The heat is collected in a heat exchanger. A fan blows air across the heat exchanger and sends the heated air into your house through your duct system. Cooler air is drawn into the return ducts and sent back to the furnace to be heated again. This is called a recirculating system and is designed to increase efficiency.
This cycle continues until the temperature in your home matches the setting on your thermostat, which then shuts off the system.
Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency - AFUE
Furnaces are rated on how efficient they are. Their efficiency, which basically means how much energy is turned into usable heat in your home, is determined by Department of Energy standards. These standards are called AFUE, Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. These standards are listed in the manufacturer's literature and can be determined by asking your heating contractor. The higher the AFUE, the less energy the system will use and the less money it will take to heat your home.
Whether it's fueled by gas or electricity, the average existing home heating system is only about 60% efficient -- and that's when it's in top working condition. Unfortunately, many home owners don't know how to adequately maintain their systems and the real efficiency may be less than 50% -- and they pay a high price for it.
Efficiency Saves on Energy Bills
A heating system is often the biggest single consumer of energy in the home, accounting for up to two-thirds of a household's winter energy bill.
Experts agree that tuning up your heating system is one of the single most important actions you can take to keep your monthly heating bills under control. It will keep your home more comfortable as well.
Energy Efficiency Saves the Environment
An energy-efficient heating system saves more than money. It saves natural resources, reduces air emissions and helps create a cleaner environment for all of us.
Be sure to continue reading through the practical energy-saving tips in this fact sheet, and begin saving energy and money today.