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Finding the Best Heating System: Use HSPF, AFUE and SEER

It’s been cold. It’s been downright frigid. While your average wooly mammoth may find negative temperatures extremely comfortable, we, as humans, unfortunately don’t grow big furry coats. So, having a good heating system in your home during these winter months can be imperative for your comfort.

But what do you do when that old rundown heater starts misbehaving? Most of the time, people cringe as they think about all of the money they are going to have to spend. When they start thinking about cost, they start thinking about how to cut cost. When they cut cost, they buy a cheap system, and when they buy a cheap system, you end up with a heater like the one Kevin Mccallister had in his basement in Home Alone. Listed below are a few steps you can take in order to find the best replacement for your system, how you can save money over the long term, and how you can safely remove your terrifying old machine.

Steps Toward a Better Heating Experience

What type of system does your home require?

If you already have a heating system in your home, then you are in luck. The reason being that your new system will likely be similar to the one your currently have. If you have a forced air system, the replacement system will be a forced air system. If you have a heat pump system, then the new system should be a heat pump system. This law holds true for heat exchanger systems and gas furnaces as well.

What’s the efficiency rating of your system?

Older systems are typically much less efficient compared to those available on the market today. A 1970 Ford Mustang is going to get fewer miles to the gallon than a 2014 model. Greater regulations on fuel economy have led to more fuel efficient vehicles (though we do miss those old muscle cars). The same is true for heating systems; as the years have gone on, the models have become more efficient, which saves you, the consumer, more money over the long term. Cars have MPG, while heating systems have a whole bunch of acronyms to determine efficiency:

  • HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor): HSPF measures the efficiency of air source heat pumps by determining the ratio of heat energy output to watt-hours of electricity used during the heating season. Keep your eyes open for systems that are rated over an 8. Any system over that number can be considered a high-efficiency system.
  • AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency): Other than sounding like a really awkward sneeze, the AFUE rating gathers the average thermal efficiency of your gas furnace (combustion energy systems) over the heating season. This average is measured as a percentage (energy output/energy input) and the higher the percentage, the more efficient the system is.
  • SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio): Today, most heating systems are paired with cooling systems. In order to better understand the efficiency and energy usage of the system in warmer weather, the SEER rating was created. It measures the amount of cooling energy output (in BTUs), and divides it by the watt-hours of electrical energy consumed during the cooling season. In the US, these systems have to have a minimum rating of 13, while higher efficiency models typically run around 20.

Meet with your good ol’ local HVAC Provider

When you have a list of potential options, it would be a good idea to hire an HVAC professional to help select an option. With your research, and their insight, it should be possible to have a better discussion about which system best fits both your home and your budget.

Stay warm!

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How to Choose a Heating System

As a homeowner, there are a lot of decisions to make when it comes to the best way to manage your home. When deciding how you’re going to heat your home, you have a number of options. It’s important to take where you live into consideration when deciding what type of heating system to use, because different climates are conducive to different types of heating.

If you live in a warmer climate area, heat pumps are a good option for heating your home. This type of heating system is especially useful if you live somewhere with low electricity rates, because they’re electric-powered instead of fossil fuel-powered. If you live in an area with low electricity rates, having a heat pump is a good choice when it comes to heating your home, because it will cost less to heat your home this way than if you were to install a furnace. The cost for electricity to run the heat pump is likely much less than if you had to power a fuel-based system that runs on gas or oil. Additionally, if you already have a central air conditioning system, the heat pump combines with it so that only one piece of equipment is necessary to heat and cool your home instead of two.

Installing a heat pump through your HVAC system heats your home by taking in air from outside and processing it through a reverse refrigeration cycle. The compressor draws the air in from outside, and the heat is taken from the air and compressed. A refrigerant in the system evaporates the heat into a gas so that it can travel through copper tubing to a coil inside the house. When it reaches its destination, the gas returns to liquid through condensation, and the heat is able to distribute throughout the house.

A furnace is an entirely different system. Furnaces are often fueled by either gas or oil, though some are electric. Forced air furnaces operate by igniting a flame inside the system that heats up the air. A fan within the system pushes the heated air through ducts and vents that run throughout the house.

There are a lot of factors that go into choosing the heating system that’s right for you and your home, so it’s important to speak with an experienced contractor to help you make the decision!