When it comes to keeping your home comfortable over the winter, the cost of running your heating system comes into sharp focus. If you are considering an HVAC upgrade, there are many factors to consider. There’s not only the expense of installing the system but also the wide variety of heating technologies that can significantly impact how much energy you consume and what you’ll pay for it. Use this guide to see through the noise and explore which option may be right for your home.
High-Efficiency Natural Gas Furnace
The standard heating system around Champaign is the single-stage gas furnace. Many homeowners choose a gas-fueled system over an electrical one, even though they can be more efficient because the cost of electricity is prohibitive. Standard gas furnaces have an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating of between 80% and 85%. However, a high-efficiency gas furnace can offer up to 98.5% AFUE, which gets close to the efficiency of an electrical unit. That means that nearly all the heat it generates from natural gas goes into your home rather than up the chimney. These units have modulating burners, variable-speed circulating fans, and dual heat exchangers to achieve maximum efficiency.
Air-Sourced Heat Pump
Another very popular heating system is the air-sourced heat pump. This unit is similar to your standard central air conditioner but has a reversing valve that allows it to provide heating. These are usually much more efficient than gas furnaces during moderately cold weather. When operating in its ideal temperature range, an air-sourced heat pump can output as much as 300% or more heat than the energy it consumes. However, the disadvantage of these units is that when frigid weather hits, they quickly lose that high-efficiency level.
Geothermal Heat Pump
Almost everyone has heard of geothermal systems, but many don’t understand what they are. These are heat pumps that use the ground to transfer heat energy rather than the air outside. The lines are buried below the frost line to make these systems more efficient than air-sourced units. Because the lines are buried so deep, there is always ample heat to absorb in the winter. This gives these systems the efficiency of a heat pump but without the variation due to extreme air temperatures.
Dual Heating Systems
The winter low temperatures around Champaign can become frigid, making it difficult for heat pumps to keep up. These units generally have an electric resistance heater built in that will automatically turn on to deal with extreme temperatures. However, electric resistance heating in these units is not very efficient, which can drive up your electricity bills when cold weather hits.
The alternative is what’s called a dual heating system. This is a heat pump that is paired with a natural gas furnace. Duel systems allow you to get the efficiency benefit of the heat pump during moderate temperatures in winter and during the summer months. The gas furnace kicks on to provide heat when the weather gets too cold for your heat pump to be efficient.
When it comes to determining the best system for your home, the discussion should go deeper than which one merely ranks best for efficiency or which one is cheapest to install. Rather, you should consider the full costs you’ll incur with each as part of your decision-making process.
Start by looking at the cost of running the system. This is a balance of how much energy you’ll consume, such as electricity or natural gas, compared to the cost of that energy. For instance, natural gas is almost always less expensive than electricity. However, in the case of heat pumps, you’ll consume so much less electricity during moderate temperatures that you’ll lower your overall energy bills despite its cost.
Next, consider the cost of purchasing your system. Generally speaking, more efficient systems will cost more to install. This means that geothermal systems are going to cost the most. High-efficiency modulating condensing furnaces will cost more than single-stage furnaces. When considering the costs of these options, be sure to factor in the rebates and tax incentives available when you install a high-efficiency system.
The best approach to finding the most cost-effective method of heating your home is working with experienced installation professionals. They will first determine the heating capacity you need and then will explore the difference in system options and what each looks like for your home.
Contact the Professionals
When property owners around Champaign need help keeping their homes comfortable, they have turned to Bash Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. since 1952. Our expert technicians provide heating and cooling system installation, maintenance, and repair services. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our HVAC technicians to explore what heating system makes the most sense for your home.