In a typical home, heating and cooling account for more than half of the home’s energy use, making it the largest energy expense for most households. Today’s high efficiency furnaces operate more efficiently while using less energy than older equipment.
If your heating equipment is more than 12 years old, consider replacing it -- before it breaks down -- to save money on utility bills, allow time for price research, and ensure your family’s comfort.
Save money on the purchase price of your new furnace by taking advantage of promotional rebates offered by equipment manufacturers. For more information, visit www.energystar.gov.
Replacing your heating system
When replacing your heating system, you’ll save money and benefit when you:
- Always select ENERGY STAR qualified equipment. Although upfront costs can be higher, the long-term savings difference is regained with lower energy usage. ENERGY STAR furnaces are the most efficient models on the market.
- The EnergyGuide label with a high AFUE rating. The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, or AFUE, rating measures the overall energy performance of a furnace or boiler. An AFUE of 95% means that 95 percent of your energy dollar becomes heat for your home and the remaining 5 percent escapes up the chimney and elsewhere. The higher the AFUE, the more heat you get for your energy dollar.
- Install a programmable thermostat. You can save energy heating your home by turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 percent for 8 hours or more. A programmable thermostat automatically sets the temperature according to a pre-set schedule. When shopping for a programmable thermostat select a model that offers a manual override option that allows you to adjust the settings without affecting the rest of the pre-set programming.
- A high efficiency gas furnace with an Electronically Commutated Motor (ECM). Furnaces with an ECM motor use less electricity because it adjusts its speed to ensure optimal airflow at all times. Traditional furnace motors run at only one speed – high.
- Purchase high efficiency. Purchase the highest efficiency furnace that you can afford. For optimum savings, select a model with an AFUE rating of 95% or higher.
- Size it right. Purchase the proper size furnace for your home. An undersized furnace will not heat your home properly, and an oversized furnace will cost more to purchase and to operate. Check with your contractor to find the right size furnace for your home. Don’t assume the new unit should be exactly the same as your existing unit, which may not have been properly sized in the first place.
- Proper installation is critical. Improper installation can lower efficiency by up to 30 percent, increase utility bills and possibly reduce the life of the equipment.
Maintaining your heating system
A well-maintained heating system will run more efficiently and help to reduce your energy use. To keep your heating system in proper working condition, consider having your furnace inspected annually, ideally before the heating season begins. Choose one of DTE Energy’s participating HVAC Tune-up contractors from the online list of participating contractors*.
If you have a forced air heating system, here are some tasks you may be able to perform yourself.
- Follow manufacturers’ guidelines. For peak energy performance, always operate and maintain your heating system according to manufacturers’ guidelines.
- Clean or replace the air filter regularly. Filters reduce the amount of dust and dirt that flow through your ductwork and into your home.
- Check your furnace for dust and lint. Remove the dust and lint from the burner compartment at least once a year.
- Check the chimney for obstructions. Make sure your chimney is not blocked by debris such as bird nests, leaves, loose mortar or dirt.
- Inspect flue pipes. Also inspect the flue pipes from the heating system and water heater to make sure they are free of rust and are tightly sealed.
- Check your ductwork. Check for air leaks, especially at joints. Seal off air leaks with foil faced tape rather than duct tape.
Save energy tips
Use less energy and save money heating your home by following these tips:
- Enroll in BudgetWise Billing and spread your heating payments equally over the entire year.
- Dial down your thermostat – for each degree you set your thermostat below 72°F reduces your heating costs by approximately 3 percent. Dress appropriately for the weather and on cold winter nights, put an extra blanket on the bed and lower your thermostat another degree or two to save even more.
- Check heat vents and registers to ensure drapes and furniture do not block airflow.
- Use insulated drapes or other window coverings to help reduce drafts and keep the warm air inside.
- Minimize the number of times that doors to the outside are opened and closed. Every time an outside door opens, warm air rushes out and cold air moves in.
- Use ceiling fans set at a slow speed with the blades counter-clockwise (upward) to push warm air away from the ceiling and move it around the room without creating a chilly breeze.
The label is blue.
The savings mean green.
ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Its purpose is to help us all save money and protect the environment through researching and promoting the use of energy-efficient products and practices.
Look for the blue ENERGY STAR label. This symbol means the product or service meets strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and DOE.