Upgrade Your HVAC System to Lower Utility Bills

Two years ago, I noticed my electric bill beginning to dramatically increase. It was a moderately cool summer by most standards here on the east coast, so I was certainly surprised at the cost of my electric bills. I tried to conserve in various ways but the next month's bill would prove that my efforts were insufficient.

After much head scratching and hand wringing, I figured it was time to have my central air system checked out. I actually called my gas company and they sent a serviceman out to look at it. He wound up condemning my furnace. I was OK to use the air conditioning for a while, but I had to replace the entire furnace before the cold weather hit.

This problem was actually my fault. When I bought my house three years prior, I didn't have the furnace inspected like I should have. It was a costly mistake, but one corrected before something terrible happened. Now I have an energy efficient model and it works great!

If you are in a similar situation, where your heating and cooling bills are higher than they should be, or if you don't feel like your furnace or air conditioning is working correctly, then it may be time to upgrade your home's HVAC. But what exactly is HVAC? It stands for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning. It's what cools your house in the summer and keeps it warm in the winter.

Let's take a look at some of the primary components that make up the heating end of the system in your home.

  • The Burner - Where gas is burned to heat the air
  • The Heat Exchanger - Where the warmed air gets collected and dispersed throughout the home
  • The Blower - The motor that forces the air through the system
  • The Flue - The vent through which the carbon dioxide and water is exhausted from the home
  • The Ductwork - The passageway that the warm or cold air uses to get throughout the home.

The efficiency of your HVAC system has a tremendous impact on a variety of issues within your home. Some of the ways a poorly functioning HVAC system can affect your home are:

  • High utility bills
  • Could cause mold to form throughout your home
  • Could cause an uncomfortable environment for the homeowner
  • If left for too long, corrosion could result in Carbon Monoxide leaks

A regularly maintained and serviced HVAC system ensures that you're getting the healthiest living environment possible. It is important, however, to find a reputable contractor when you choose to upgrade your system. Many variables are taken into account when sizing up a new HVAC system. A contractor who chooses to replace one system with a newer one of the same size could be doing you a disservice.

Tip: Contact your gas and electric companies to see if they have any incentives for upgrading your HVAC system to an energy-saving model. Many times they'll give you a credit on your bill that can save you a few hundred dollars.

Not only can you possibly get a cash credit on your bills, you can save hundreds of dollars on your utility bills over the year. To find out how much you can save yearly, visit EnergyStar's calculator at: www.saskenergy.com/residential/appliances/furnace_comparison.asp.

You may notice that your furnace's efficiency is rated in AFUE. It stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. The higher the AFUE, the more efficient your system is.

It's surprising to think that today's home HVAC systems are more than 60 percent more efficient than systems installed only 10 years ago. Although they're not inexpensive, upgrading your HVAC system could be a financially wise move in the long run.