Cooling and heating are the two biggest strains on a family's utility budget every year. Old air conditioning units and furnaces are huge energy hogs when compared to newer models from the last few years. Fortunately, homeowners can go green and save a bundle on cooling and heating costs. Modern high-efficiency air conditioning units and furnaces provide equal or better service than older models while using much less energy.
Older air conditioning systems use more electricity to power less efficient fans and compressors. New units have a seasonal energy efficiency ratio, or SEER. This is measured by the total output of cooling power over a typical season divided by how much electricity the air conditioner used in watts.
An efficient air conditioner can be rated as high as 23. Using the example of an old system with a SEER of 6, replacing it with a new unit that has a SEER of 16 is expected to yield an increase in electricity savings of 70 percent. That is a significant reduction in energy cost.
Older furnaces have pilot lights and no means of re-burning exhaust gases that go up the chimney. New systems, on the other hand, often have exhaust gas concentrators and re-burners that extract more heat from every cubic foot of natural gas used. The new units are so efficient that the exhaust gases that are left over are vented through a plastic pipe through the wall rather than up the chimney.
Furnaces now use the annual fuel utilization efficiency, or AFUE, rating. An old furnace that is rated at 50 percent can see savings add up with each 5 percent upgrade in efficiency with a replacement furnace. Going from 50 percent to 95 percent AFUE can cut annual heating costs in half.
Choosing the most efficient cooling and heating system will help the environment. However, for milder climates, the return on investment for ultra-efficient air conditioners and furnaces may not be recoupable over the life of the appliance. Most families have budget concerns as well as environmental concerns. Higher efficiency ratings save more in harsher climates because of the savings in fuel for every BTU provided, but there is a point where replacement costs will exceed savings. Still, a family may choose to invest in order to help preserve natural resources.
Look for the best annual savings on the utility bill as compared to the cost of the air conditioner or furnace. Divide the cost of the system by the annual savings to see how long it would take to pay for the new system
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Heather B is always trying to stay as eco-friendly as possible, she likes to share new ideas with other readers.