The Sneaky Reasons Your New High-Efficiency Heater Costs More To Use
Are your winter-time heating bills too high — even with a new high-efficiency furnace? If your high AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) heater doesn’t deliver on its promise to warm your home in a cost-effective way, take a look at the sneaky culprits behind high utility bills.
Dusty Vents and Radiators
Whether you have a forced air or radiant system, dust, dirt, and debris can interfere with the heater’s ability to effectively warm the interior space. You may have recently replaced the furnace or boiler. But did you keep your home’s old vents or radiators?
Air vents and hot water radiators are the last steps before the heat reaches the interior areas. Dirt and dust can clog vents or coat radiator parts over time. Without regular cleaning, the air or radiating heat won’t effectively warm your home. This forces your brand-new furnace to work harder, reducing efficiency and effectiveness.
Clean your HVAC system’s vents or the radiators regularly to reduce the risks of dirt- and debris-related issues — especially if you have pets or if your home’s surfaces gather dust easily. If you can see pet fur, dust, or other debris on the exterior part of the air vents, coming from inside the vents, or on the radiators, it’s time to clean these parts of your HVAC system.
Poor HVAC Installation
What if your vents or radiators are dirt and dust-free, but your utility bills haven’t budged after you replaced the older furnace with a new high-efficiency unit? What else could cause this problem?
Improper HVAC installation can decrease overall heating efficiency. Only a qualified, experienced professional should install a new high-efficiency furnace or boiler. This is not a do-it-yourself home improvement project or a job for someone with minimal to no HVAC experience (such as a general handyman or your friend who binges DIY YouTube videos).
A high-quality HVAC professional will help you to select the right size system for your home and install every part of the unit. This includes electrical wiring, venting, and ductwork (or radiator installation). Improper venting can decrease the furnace’s ability to function and create a potential health or safety risk.
The contractor you choose should know local building and safety codes, understand how to adequately vent the system, give you correct sizing information, and provide expert services. Even though it’s tempting to choose the lowest estimate, a bare-bones or cost-cutting bid could negatively impact your furnace or boiler’s ability to operate efficiently.
Leaky or Ineffective Air Ducts
While this issue is never a problem for homes with boiler or radiant systems, it can affect those with forced-air furnaces. Well-insulated ducts can boost the HVAC system’s efficiency. This means the duct structures should hide behind walls or in between ceilings and floors. While some ducts may need to go in unheated spaces (such as attics or crawl spaces), this strategy is a last resort.
Improper air duct design is a primary way homes lose heat and furnaces are forced to work harder. If you replaced your home’s heater, but not the ducts, ask the contractor to inspect or evaluate the setup. The more ducts your home has in uninsulated spaces, the harder your furnace will need to work to prevent excess heat losses.
Along with improper duct installation (or ducts in uninsulated spaces), older, leaky air ducts can also decrease your new furnace’s efficiency. An HVAC technician can inspect your home’s ducts and look for leaks. If possible, the technician will repair or seal the leaky ducts. But if the ducts have serious damage or wear, you may need to schedule a replacement service.