As the summer heat starts to subside and your air conditioner heads for a well-deserved break, it’s time to start thinking about keeping warm as the frigid desert winter will settle in before you know it. And that means determining whether it’s time to replace your heat pump or furnace.
A few telltale signs that it might be time for a new heat pump or furnace include if it’s more than 10 years old, is not keeping your house warm, is costing you in repairs about half the cost of a new unit, or if your utility bill rises without explanation. If you’re experiencing any of these scenarios, you’ll want a licensed HVAC contractor to come out and take a look to determine whether it’s time to take the plunge and replace your unit.
If the time has come to replace your heating pump or furnace, you know you’re making an investment in your family’s comfort, not to mention making out a good-sized check. So you’ll want to take all the appropriate measures to make sure you’re getting the most efficient, effective system possible.
If it is time, then there are a series of steps you should take, including:
- Research and purchase a unit that has earned the ENERGY STAR label. An ENERGY STAR unit can save you up to $200 on your energy bill. ENERGY STAR heat pumps have higher seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) and energy efficiency ratio (EER) ratings. They also have a higher heating seasonal performance factor rating. What does that all mean? It means they’re about 9 percent more efficient that most other new models and 20 percent better than the older unit that’s been in your home for the past decade.
- Proper Installation. To ensure the best performance, the new equipment needs to be installed correctly. If anything is amiss it could cost you as much as 30 percent on your utility bill and could reduce the life of the unit. A professional HVAC contractor will make sure the unit is installed the way it should be.
- Buy a unit that is the right size. This is something else an experienced HVAC company can do for you. Bigger doesn’t always mean the best when it comes to furnaces and heat pumps. You want the size that is right for your house for it to be most efficient. If the unit is too big for your house, it will cycle on and off more than it needs to and ultimately shorten the life of the unit.
There are many choices when it comes to which brand of furnace or heat pump to buy. Trane, Lennox and Carrier all offer ENERGY STAR products.
But while a product might be rated at a respectable 20 on the box, the true rating is revealed after it’s installed and the unit interacts with other variables in the home — variables that can be kept at bay by a HVAC contractor who will ensure that proper air flow is present, coils aren’t mismatched and ducts aren’t leaking.