How do I select the right heating/cooling system?
B&B Mechanical Services, Inc. provides you with an energy analysis to determine operating costs and customizes a system to fit your particular needs and budget. Are allergies a primary concern? Eliminating uneven temperatures from room to room? Will savings from a new system offset the cost of a new unit? Call B&B Mechanical Services, Inc. at (888) 334-BBMS for solutions and answers.
How long does a B&B Mechanical Services, Inc. air conditioner or furnace last?
With regular preventative maintenance and a professional installation, industry averages suggest that an air conditioning system will last for approximately 20 to 25 years and a furnace for about 25 years.
What is covered in my warranty?
B&B Mechanical Services, Inc. products come with a manufacturer’s written warranty on parts and our own limited labor warranty depending on which type of equipment and or materials are installed. Call or email us to review the warranty periods for the products you are interested in.
A central furnace or boiler's efficiency is measured by annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). The federal Trade Commission requires new furnaces or boilers to display their AFUE so consumers can compare heating efficiencies of various models. AFUE is a measure of how efficient the appliance is in the energy in its fuel over the course of a typical year. Specifically, AFUE is the ratio of heat output of the furnace or boiler compared to the total energy consumed by a furnace or boiler. An AFUE of 90% means that 90% of the energy in the fuel becomes heat for the home and the other 10% escapes up the chimney and elsewhere. AFUE doesn't include the heat losses of the duct system or piping, which can be as much as 35% of the energy for output of the furnace when ducts are located in the attic.
An all-electric furnace or boiler has no flue loss through a chimney. The AFUE rating for an all-electric furnace or boiler is between 95% and 100%. The lower values are for units installed outdoors because they have greater jacket heat loss. However, despite their high efficiency, the higher cost of electricity in most parts of the country makes all-electric furnaces or boilers an uneconomic choice. If you are interested in electric heating, consider installing a heat pump system.
The minimum allowed AFUE rating for a non-condensing fossil-fueled, warm-air furnace is 78%; the minimum rating for a fossil-fueled boiler is 80%; and the minimum rating for a gas-fueled steam boiler is 75%. A condensing furnace or boiler condenses the water vapor produced in the combustion process and uses the heat from this condensation. The AFUE rating for a condensing unit can be much higher (by more than 10 percentage points) than a non-condensing furnace. Although condensing units cost more than non-condensing units, the condensing unit can save you money in fuel costs over the 15- to 20-year life of the unit, and is a particularly wise investment in cold climates
Identifying your systems efficiency
You can identify and compare a system's efficiency by not only its AFUE but also by its equipment features, listed below.
Old, low-efficiency heating systems:
- Natural draft that creates a flow of combustion gases
- Continuous pilot light
- Heavy heat exchanger
- 68%–72% AFUE
Mid-efficiency heating systems:
- Exhaust fan controls the flow of combustion air and combustion gases more precisely
- Electronic ignition (no pilot light)
- Compact size and lighter weight to reduce cycling losses
- Small-diameter flue pipe
- 80%–83% AFUE
High-efficiency heating systems:
- Condensing flue gases in a second heat exchanger for extra efficiency
- Sealed combustion
- 90%–97% AFUE
Retrofitting Your Furnace or Boiler
Furnaces and boilers can be retrofitted to increase their efficiency. These upgrades improve the safety and efficiency of otherwise sound, older systems. The costs of retrofits should be carefully weighed against the cost of a new boiler or furnace, especially if replacement is likely within a few years or if you wish to switch to a different system for other reasons, such as adding air conditioning. If you choose to replace your gas heating system, you'll have the opportunity to install equipment that incorporates the most energy-efficient heating technologies available.
Items that can improve a system's energy efficiency include installing programmable thermostats, upgrading ductwork in forced-air systems, and adding zone control for hot-water systems.