When you install a new heating or air conditioning system, the company you choose may offer you an extended HVAC service contract.
These agreements can be useful, but it’s a mistake to think that they’re all cut from the same mold. In this week’s blog post, we’ll take a closer look at how an HVAC service agreement works, and what to look for when choosing one.
Winter can be a pretty dry time, as anyone who stocks up on tissues with lotion can tell you.
When the weather gets cold, the relative humidity levels in your home can sink to just 15 percent.
A good humidity level is between 30 and 50 percent. Anything over 50, and your home becomes susceptible to mold, bacteria, dust mites and other pests.
And when the humidity level gets too low, things can quickly become uncomfortable in your home. You get shocked by static electricity every time you unfold a blanket, your lips are chapped, and things just feel colder.
There’s still quite a few weeks of warm weather left, but
it’s not too early to think about how you’ll be heating your home this winter.
And maybe you’re thinking about a change when the wintry
weather comes, switching from a heat pump to a
furnace, or vice versa.
In this week’s blog post, we’ll look at the difference
between a heat pump
and a furnace.
How they generate
The question “how do they work” illustrates the key
difference between a heat pump and a furnace.
Furnaces use a flame to heat air, which is then pushed – via
a fan – through air ducts and out of vents into your home.
A heat pump does what it says: pumps heat from the outside,
relying on what’s called a refrigeration cycle, essentially a reverse of the
process that cools a refrigerator.
With a heat pump, an outdoor compressor draws in heat from
the air – or the ground, depending on the type of pump you have – and
compresses it. The heat is turned into a gas, then back into a liquid and
distributed throughout the home.
How they are powered
Furnaces are fueled by oil, electricity and natural gas. Of
the three, electric and gas furnaces are
the most common options in modern homes. Without proper ventilation and
service, oil and gas furnaces can send carbon monoxide into your home, which
poses a serious, if not fatal, risk.
Heat pumps run on electricity, and can be used for heating
in the winter and cooling in the summer. They don’t pose the same carbon
monoxide risk, although heat pumps can perform poorly when not installed the
right way. It’s a job best left to a professional.
How efficient are
There was a time when furnaces were one of the least
effective ways to heat your home, but newer models are as much as 98 percent
Furnaces have what’s called an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency
number, which keeps track of the percentage of fuel that the furnace transforms
Systems that are older – let’s say two decades or more – typically
carry a 70 percent AFUE, while today’s minimum AFUE is 80 percent. That means
meaning that you’d cut 10 percent off your heating bill if you made the switch
from a 70 percent unit to a newer furnace.
That greater efficiency will, of course, cost you more in the
short term. However, you’ll save money over time on your home heating costs,
and may also be eligible for tax credits and manufacturer’s rebates for
installing an efficient heating system.
Heat pumps use electricity, meaning they can be as much as 300
percent efficient: it takes one unit of electricity to move three units of
heat. However, the pump will have to do more work as the weather outside begins
to get colder.
system is best?
There’s not a simple answer. A furnace has a definite edge in
winter time. Once the temperatures outside drop past a certain point, it
becomes hard for the heat
pump to work with the outside air.
But in the summertime, a heat pump can turn warm air cool, which
is a job your furnace isn’t able to tackle without the addition of an air
If you’re wondering which system is right for your home, or would
like more information on the difference between a heat pump and a furnace, contact All
Seasons Comfort Control.
Our expert technicians will be happy to guide you through what it
will take to keep your home warm this winter, no matter which system you