Repair or Replace: That’s the Question

When should you repair an aging HVAC unit and when should you replace? Great question!

According to the National Association of Home Builder’s Study of Life Expectancy of Home Components, residential furnaces last 15-20 years. Energy Star believes a replacement is necessary if a heat pump or a/c is more than ten years old, a furnace is more than fifteen years old, equipment needs frequent repairs, energy bills are going up, a home has humidity problems, a home has excessive dust, or the heating and cooling system is noisy. Something else to keep in mind is that HVAC companies should take sizing of the unit keeping different housing/environmental issues in mind. However, precise life expectancy is difficult to pinpoint due to numerous factors such as climate, usage, maintenance, rating and more.

Consider replacement if the equipment is beyond 3/4 of the life expectancy and repairs will cost more than a third of replacement. For example: if your furnace is 15 years old and you’re facing a $750 repair, you should probably replace the unit. Keep in mind that you can also take this opportunity to improve your home comfort and lower your utility bill. In other words, don’t just settle with a single-stage 80% efficient furnace and be done with it – consider things like multiple staging, 95% efficiency and variable speed blowers to maximize your savings and comfort.

While there may never be a singular answer on when it is time to replace an HVAC unit instead of repair it, the decision should always come down to HVAC contractors doing their best work. In the end it should be the company, not the equipment that you invest your dollars in.

Thanks to ACHR News for the great information in this blog post.

Fall/Winter Energy Saving Tips, Pt 1

The following tips will save you energy and help your budget as the weather cools down.

  • Set your thermostat no higher than 68 degrees when you are home and lower the temperature when you go to bed or when you are not at home. This will ensure optimal home heating and save energy.
  • For every degree you lower your thermostat you save about 2 percent off your heating bill.
  • Cut annual heating bills by as much as 10 percent a year by turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 percent for eight hours a day.
  • Weatherize your home by caulking and weather-stripping all doors and windows. Also use locks on your windows to make them tighter and draft resistant.
  • Turn your water heater down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to save money on your energy bill. If you have children in the house, this is also a safety measure
  • Install water-flow restrictors in showerheads and faucets.
  • Place a sheet of aluminum foil between the radiator and the wall to reflect heat back into the room.

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Stay tuned for part two….


Heating FAQ: Part 4, More Gas

Another post in our commonly asked questions series…more about gas that heats your home. Remember to ask questions in our comments section if we have not listed yours yet, and we’d be glad to help you!

What is AFUE?

– AFUE is the abbreviation for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency ratio. AFUE is used to rate furnace efficiencies by dividing the ratio of heat output by heat input. This measurement describes how well fuel, gas or oil is consumed to produce heat by a furnace. As the AFUE rate increases, the efficiency of your furnace also increases, lowering your fuel costs.

I would like to put a propane gas furnace in my basement because natural gas is not available, but I was not allowed to. Why is this?

– Code requirements for furnace installations are a protection for homeowners. In this case, the concern is that propane gas [since propane is heavier than air] may accumulate in the basement and lead to a dangerous situation. Please discuss any installation questions with your local heating contractor or local building authority.

Which fuel type is the least expensive to operate?

– This is something that is constantly changing. Propane and oil fuel pricing are not regulated by the government so they fluctuate by market supply and demands. Electricity and natural gas are regulated by the Public Utility Commission, so those prices are more stable. A dual-fuel system [i.e., natural gas and a heat pump] is recommended so you are not dependent upon one fuel source establishing your cost of operation.

What fuel type is the least comfortable?

– A heat pump the least comfortable due to the tepid temperature of the air. The temp of the air changes about twenty degrees coming out of the registers. If you have your thermostat set at 73 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, the air coming out of the registers will be about 93 degree Fahrenheit. Since your body temp is about 98 degrees Fahrenheit, this air will feel cool. A home heated with a heat pump will often need a humidifier to feel warm in the winter.

You can find more questions and answers at our website, and we always update with helpful hints on Facebook. Connect with us!