HVAC money savingsYou already know how important a properly functioning HVAC system is to your family – especially on those sweltering hot days, and those freezing cold nights. Unfortunately, most of us take our heating and cooling systems for granted until it suddenly stops working. 

There are, however, several things you can do to ensure your HVAC system is not only running smoothly when you need it but will be for a long time to come. Plus, HVAC maintenance is way more cost-effective than expensive, last-minute repairs or replacement. 

Read on for a money-saving HVAC maintenance checklist.

1. Schedule an Annual Inspection

One of the best ways to save money on your HVAC system is to schedule an annual inspection with the professionals. This not only increases efficiency and performance but could extend the life of your unit. While you should be conducting visual inspections of the unit on a regular basis, having a professional come out to inspect the more intricate parts such as airflow could save you from a more costly repair later. 

During the inspection, most HVAC technicians will:

2. Change Out Air Filters

This often tops the list of most-overlooked-but-helpful tasks to prolong the life of your HVAC: filter replacement. 

Regularly changing your air filters can go a long way toward ensuring your HVAC system is running at optimal levels. Regularly replacing the air filters can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5-15%. Dirty air filters can block airflow, reduce efficiency, and lead to greater damage to the system. 

You replace the air filter in your HVAC system every month or two, especially during high-use months. But, if you operate in dustier conditions or have pets, you may need to change them out more often. 

3. Seal Your Ducts

Did you know leaky ductwork can result in a 20% to 40% loss in energy? This is why you should be checking for leaks, separated joints, stuck dampers and blocked registers. The air ducts are the backbone of your HVAC system. Sealing any leaks could mean an extra half-ton of air conditioner capacity – for free!

4. Clean Your Vents

If you can’t remember the last time you inspected the louvers on your air vents, it’s time to clean your air vents. Years of use can cause dirt, grime, pet hair, and dust to accumulate on the vent covers. 

Not only will a thorough cleaning make them look better, it will help reduce the allergens in your home, and more importantly, it will allow your HVAC system to operate more efficiently. 

5. Check Your Outdoor Unit

Visually inspect your outdoor unit on a regular basis. It’s not a “set it and forget it” system. Remove any leaves, branches, or debris that may have settled around the unit. Ensuring there is at least two feet of space will help it run more efficiently.

Consider placing a cover over the unit to protect it from dust, mud, or other debris that may clog the unit. And, lastly, make sure the concrete slab the unit is sitting upon is still even. If it’s on an uneven surface, your unit could be running on overtime. 

6. Consider a Programmable Thermostat

While it may be an investment upfront, transitioning to a programmable thermostat could save you money, help your heating and cooling system run more efficiently, and ensure lower energy bills. 

Turning your thermostat back 7-10 degrees when you’re away can save you up to 10% on cooling and heating costs each year.

7. Take the Pressure Off

Nearly half of your utility bill goes toward cooling and heating your home each year, according to the Department of Energy. 

That’s why the last item on your HVAC maintenance checklist includes the ways you can lighten the load on your HVAC system entirely, which translates into greater efficiency and lower bills:

Taking the time to maintain your HVAC system can prevent future problems and unwelcome additional costs.

Functionally, the most significant difference between a furnace and a boiler is that a furnace uses air to transfer heat, and a boiler uses water. However, this seemingly innocuous difference affects everything from upfront costs, efficiency and air quality, to ongoing maintenance bills.

Read on to see the benefits and drawbacks of furnaces and boilers, and which is best for your home.

What is a furnace?

A furnace can be powered by electricity, natural gas, propane, or heating oil. This system warms your home by drawing in cool air and then transferring it to the furnace through ducts. Once the air has reached the furnace, it is filtered, heated, and pushed back into rooms of your home through the same ductwork.

What is a boiler?

Rather than using air to warm your home—as a furnace does—boilers utilize hot water, making them essentially a special-purpose water heater.

A boiler uses gas, propane, natural gas, electricity or oil, to warm the water in its tank and then pushes the water through a venting system to warm your home. Once the water has cooled down, it is sent back into the boiler to be reheated and recirculated through your home.

How do furnaces compare to boilers?

The differences in how the heat is created and distributed throughout your home mean that boilers and furnaces have unique weaknesses and strengths.

Finally, because the vents of furnaces are exposed, they pose more safety risks than boilers. Objects can slip into the vents of a furnace, which is a fire risk. It’s also possible for someone’s finger or hands to reach into the vent, which poses a risk of burns.

Which is less costly: boiler or furnace?

While weighing the pros and cons of furnaces and boilers, maybe you noticed boilers have a few more advantages than furnaces. The benefits of a boiler are reflected in the price difference: Furnaces are significantly less expensive than boilers. 

The cost of a boiler—and the subsequent installation—are anywhere from 2-3 times more expensive than the standard rates for installing and purchasing a furnace.

Installing a new furnace will cost somewhere between $1,200-5,000 depending on the fuel it runs on.  A boiler, on the other hand, can cost between $5,000 and over $8,000 depending on the fuel it runs on.

Homeowners also find savings with furnaces when they are installed with a Central Air system. By combining the two systems, homeowners don’t have to pay for extra ductwork.

When it comes to efficiency, boilers may save you a bit on your monthly energy bills if your furnace is an older model. However, with newer models, both furnaces and boilers are roughly 95% energy efficiency, which means overall savings could be a moot point in the end.

Is it easier to maintain a furnace or a boiler?

On average, both furnaces and boilers have an average lifespan of 15-20 years. By giving your system an annual inspection and regular cleanings, you can even prolong the life expectancy of your appliances.

It is important to note that furnaces usually require more maintenance from a homeowner than a boiler will. Furnaces tend to be more susceptible to breakdowns, which requires a more careful eye from homeowners to keep up on regular inspections and cleanings.

In many cases, homeowners say that apart from an annual inspection, boilers require much less attention.

Which is best for your home: boiler or furnace?

At the end of the day, selecting a furnace or boiler will often come down to budget. If you can spring for the upfront cost that a boiler requires, you can enjoy benefits like radiant floor heating, and a more even flow of air.

However, furnaces are a great option, as well. Though they have a few more drawbacks compared to their counterparts, they are still an effective way to heat your home, especially if you’re on a budget.

natrual gas pros and cons connecticut

Natural gas for home appliances

Natural gas production has been rising since the economic crisis of 2008 with a compound annual growth rate of 2.6%. And in 2017, global natural gas production hit a record of 3.768 billion cubic meters. According to the Energy Information Administration, that production translates into more than 35% of Americans using natural gas as a source of fuel in their homes.

With the growing use of natural gas in the United States, what do you need to know about the advantages and disadvantages of this fossil fuel?

What is Natural Gas?

Natural gas is one of the three biggest fossil energy sources in the world today. The fuel develops deep beneath the earth’s surface from organic matter aged over millions of years. The largest component of natural gas is methane, though there are also traces of hydrocarbon gases and hydrocarbon gas liquids.

Cons of Natural Gas

Though there are benefits of natural gas, the drawbacks are considerable. Specifically when it comes to extracting, transporting, and maintaining infrastructure for the fuel.

Pros of Natural Gas

Now that we’ve gotten the drawbacks accounted for, let’s explore why a homeowner would consider natural gas.

Managing Natural Gas Properly

Natural gas provides access to a cleaner fossil fuel that is equally effective to other energy sources available. While there are certain hazards which we must account for when using this resource, if carefully managed, natural gas is one of the most viable and clean energy sources on earth.

And, there are things all homeowners can do to mitigate risk:

Santa Fuel has been a reliable and dependable source for Connecticut heating services for decades. Not only does Santa Fuel provide heating oil services, but we also perform energy audits to decrease your heating bills, and offer alternative heating solutions such as natural gas system installations, conversions, and repairs, and offer 24-hour tech service when you need us most.

Learn more about Santa’s top-of-the-line, energy-efficient natural gas systems, and services.