If you want to enjoy all the perks of energy efficiency, you need to pay close attention to how your system is running. Finding out how efficient your heater is involved more than just looking at your energy bill. There are a few specific guidelines you can follow to see exactly how much energy your system uses. Keep reading to find out all about how to determine the energy efficiency of your heater.
Why Is Heater Efficiency Important?
Why do you need to take the time to figure out the energy efficiency level of your heater? Energy efficiency is very important. A good energy efficiency rating means you use less fuel or energy to keep your house warm. This helps you to save a lot of money. A good efficiency rating can mean you save hundreds of dollars over the course of your heater’s life.
It’s also important to check efficiency because it tells you how well your system is running. Common issues, like leaks in ductwork or dusty coils, cause your efficiency to drop. Therefore, keeping an eye on your efficiency levels can help you to identify and address potential problems.
Understanding Common Energy Efficiency Ratings for Heaters
The most common rating for heater energy efficiency is the AFUE rating. This stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, and it is essentially a measurement of how well your heater converts fuel into energy. For example, an AFUE rating of 80 would mean that 80 percent of your fuel is converted into heat and 20 percent is wasted operating the system. A higher AFUE rating is better because it means less fuel is wasted to run the heater.
AFUE ratings are mostly just useful for furnaces. Since heat pumps don’t burn fuel for heat, the AFUE rating wouldn’t tell you much about the system’s performance. Instead, it’s more useful to look at the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor or HSPF. The HSPF ratio calculates how much heat a heat pump can add to your home while running on a certain amount of electricity. A higher HSPF rating is better.
Another valuable energy efficiency rating is Estimated Yearly Energy Cost. This is a rough estimate of how much it costs to run the heater each year in an average heating season with average electric costs. It won’t necessarily give you a precise estimate of how efficient your heater is, but it does let you know whether the heater has low or high operating costs compared to similar models.
How to Locate Your Heater’s Ratings
If you’re currently in the market for a heater, it is easy to just read the product’s specifications and find out details like AFUE rating. However, things get a little more complicated if your system is already in place. Older heaters will still have energy efficiency ratings, but they probably won’t be on a highly visible tag.
There are a few different ways to see how energy efficient your heater is. First, look at the sides and top of your heater. Many heaters will have a sticker that gives details about the model number, thermal efficiency, and other official ratings. However, if your heater is a bit older, that sticker might have peeled off or become illegible. See if you can find the user manual for your heater. Manuals will typically include a list of specifications that can include various efficiency ratings.
Your final option is talking to the manufacturer directly. Once you get the model number, you can visit their website or call customer service to see the efficiency ratings for your system. Most systems have the model number printed somewhere inside. If you do not see that, you can just call the brand that made the heater and get them to give you more details about your product.
How to See if an Older Heater Is Still Efficient
Keep in mind that your heater’s official ratings are based on tests run under ideal conditions. The rating your heater has only exists when it is installed correctly and properly maintained. If your system is older or improperly installed, your true energy efficiency rating might be a little lower. It is a good idea to check on your system every now and then so that you can see if it is still meeting efficiency standards.
There are a few different tests you can run to see if your heater is efficient. If possible, take a look at your utility bill history. If your bill is increasing drastically even though you aren’t running your system more often, it might be inefficient. You can also consider just how long it takes your heater to warm your house. If it used to just run for around 30 minutes at a time and now it’s running nonstop, it might be less efficient.
Your local HVAC technician can also test your system a little more closely if you would like. They will use a short-range thermometer to measure the temperature of the air around the house. Ideally, the air coming out of your vents should be somewhere between 16 degrees Fahrenheit to 22 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the air going into your vents. If the difference between the air flowing in and out of your heater is less than 16 degrees Fahrenheit, you’re probably dealing with some sort of efficiency problem.
What You Can Do to Improve Heater Efficiency
So if you notice that your heater is not working efficiently, what can you do? The first step is to get an HVAC technician out to examine your system. Sometimes, just a little cleaning can be enough to get your system working efficiently again. Sometimes, you might need to do repairs or replace some of your ductwork. Depending on how old your heater is, your only option to increase efficiency might be to replace the heating system.
Once you have an efficient heater, the best thing you can do is maintain it regularly. Maintenance helps to ensure that your heater continues to operate as efficiently as possible. During routine maintenance, the technician will tighten any loose fittings that could’ve been slowing down your system. They will also clean the system so that grime doesn’t get in the way of the heater’s ability to transfer heat.
What Level of Energy Efficiency Do You Need?
When you do start shopping for new heaters, energy efficiency is one of the most important things to consider. However, picking the ideal level of efficiency can be tricky. A higher energy-efficiency rating might save you money on utility costs, but you also need to take into account the fact that high-efficiency heaters cost more. Furthermore, depending on your local utility bills, it might cost more to run a high-efficiency electric heater instead of a mid-efficiency gas furnace.
If you want the most efficient system possible, turn to Environmental Heating & Air Solutions. Our team is happy to answer your questions and help you figure out what heating system is right for your needs. We offer routine maintenance and assist with all the necessary repairs to keep your system running properly. If you would like to learn more about the HVAC services we offer in Roseville, give us a call today.