What should a new, first-time homeowner know about heating systems? While you don't need to become a trained HVAC technician to learn about your furnace or boiler, some knowledge can help you to make informed repair, replacement, or maintenance choices. If this is your first experience with a home heating system, take a look at what you need to know about these complex appliances.
There Isn't One Type of Home Heater
What type of heater is in your home? If you can't answer this question, contact a qualified HVAC contractor for a pre-season inspection. The technician can identify the type of heater in your new home and help you to understand how it works, what types of fuel it uses, and how to maintain it properly.
The most common types of home systems include:
Forced air heaters. A central unit that forces are throughout the interior space via a system of ducts and vents).
Boilers. A central unit that heats water and uses radiators in each room or space.
Ductless mini split heat pumps. A duct-free system that uses an outdoor unit and indoor air handlers.
Some homes may also have radiant floor heating or baseboard heaters. Radiant floor heaters use air, electricity, or water to heat the floor areas. The heat diffuses through the floor and radiates upwards. Baseboard elements also start the heating process at floor level. Like radiant floor heating, the heat from baseboard units also rises up and into the interior space.
Different Heaters Have Different Efficiency Levels
The more efficient your heater is, the less energy it uses. Lower energy consumption can reduce your winter-time utility bills and help to extend the life of your heating system. The annual fuel utilization efficiency (or AFUE number) measures the overall yearly efficiency of a furnace or boiler type of system. Higher percentage ratings equal increased fuel efficiency.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the highest efficiency units measure between 90 and 98.5 percent AFUE. Air duct leaks, lack of interior insulation, old windows, and gaps in entry doors could reduce the expected efficiency of a heater. You can find the AFUE number on your furnace or boiler. If you don't see an AFUR label or tag, ask the HVAC technician to find it during your first heating inspection or check-up.
Older appliances may not have this number. If your heater is old enough not to have an AFUE label, discuss its potential efficiency with the technician. Even though you will have upfront costs to replace an older heater, you could save money over time in reduced energy bills or the price of repairs.
Reach out to a company like ABCO Heating & Cooling to learn more.