Basnett Plumbing, Heating & AC Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Heating Installation’

Harvard Heating Question: How Much Electricity Does a Gas Furnace Use?

Monday, April 16th, 2012

“How much electricity does my gas furnace use?” might sound like silly question. In fact, electricity is necessary for several important tasks as part of your Harvard gas furnace’s operation.

Lighting the Torch

Gas is the fuel that fires the flame that heats the air that warms your home, but electricity is the spark that lights the gas.  The flame is not roaring all the time or just ignites spontaneously.  Think of the athlete igniting the Olympic torch.

A low voltage electric signal from the thermostat opens the valve that controls the amount of gas flow and therefore the flame.  A solenoid coil in the valve senses gas and ensures flame to prevent an explosion or leakage, then opens wide to let the heating begin and shuts down when the desired temperature is reached.

Blown Away

All that heated air must be moved through the ductwork and distributed room to room to create the comfort and this is done by a motor-driven fan which is the largest use of electricity in a gas furnace.  The motor turns on and shuts down according to the relationships between flame, heated air and the thermostat setting.

Known as a draft inducer, a second fan is employed to remove the toxic fumes that are the residue of the burned gas.  These fumes which can be deadly are usually pushed through a PVC pipe to the exterior and released safely into the atmosphere.

Sum Total

The amount of electricity used to ignite the flame is very small, phased through a low-voltage impulse wire, nearly too small to even show on your meter.  Most of the electrical energy contributing the critical role of powering the two fans in gas furnaces adds up typically to less than 600 watts at any given time or about the same as a few light bulbs.

While gas furnaces are much more efficient and less costly than any kind of electric heat, they are useless (and even dangerous) without that little bit of electrical help.

If you have any questions about your Harvard heating system, contact Basnett Plumbing & Heating today!

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Harvard Boiler Installation Question: What Exactly Are High Efficiency Boilers?

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

You have already read plenty about how energy costs are rising. You know plenty well that heating your Harvard home is a substantial expense, and that the cost of running a boiler is constantly on the rise.

But as technology has gotten better, so have boilers become more efficient at providing heat. It stands to reason that a more efficient boiler is one that costs less to run…but what does “efficient” really mean in the context of boilers? What makes a boiler “high efficiency”?

 What Is a High Efficiency Boiler?

All boilers are rated according to a standardized system of rating efficiency, called the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). Essentially, this rating tells you how much heat energy is produced by a boiler compared to how much energy it draws. The higher a boiler’s AFUE rating, the more efficient it is.

For a boiler to be called high efficiency, it must carry an AFUE of at least 90%. For basis of comparison, older systems carry an AFUE of about 70%, while mid-efficiency systems run at about 82%.

In addition, a high efficiency system has a second heat exchanger for capturing and condensing flue gases, as well as a closed combustion system.

These three things — an AFUE of 90% or above, condensing flue gases and closed combustion – define a high efficiency boiler.

The initial investment in a high efficiency boiler can be costly, but the savings over time in heating bills make it well worth the expense.

If you would like a high efficiency boiler installed in your Harvard home, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call today!

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Andover Heating Contractor Guide: Which Fuel is Right for Your Home?

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Andover homeowners all want to save money on household expenses and utility bills. We turn off lights when we leave the room, take shorter showers and make sure the kids don’t keep the refrigerator door open. These small habits help, but still we all want to save a little wherever we can, right?

One area where people are constantly looking for ways to save money is home heating. Everyone wants to be comfortable and warm in their homes, but that costs money, so homeowners are always on the lookout for the most effective and cost efficient way to keep the house warm.

What is the most cost effective fuel for home heating?

Is it natural gas, electric, fuel oil or propane? How about less conventional heat sources like wood or geothermal pumps?

We all wish there was one easy, all-encompassing answer to this question, like a heating magic bullet that would keep every family warm and happy for pennies on the dollar. Unfortunately, there isn’t. It depends on too many factors for any one solution to work for everyone.

Probably the biggest factor that plays a role in the cost of a particular fuel is its local availability. Resources are available differentially, so that while one option might be cheapest for a family of five in Andover, Massachusetts, the analysis is entirely different for a single person in Kearney, Nebraska.

What is the most cost effective option for you?

That is a better question, but still not one that is necessarily easy to answer.

To figure it out, you need to carefully analyze several factors:

  • Local availability (see above)
  • Local climate
  • Size of your home
  • Your family’s needs
  • Existing heating equipment
  • Your budget

Armed with this information, you can do a careful comparison of the options available to you. For assistance you can use an online calculator to compare fuel costs, such as this one from the Energy Information Administration or this one from Hearth.com. Or, if all else fails, call a contractor for a professional assessment.

Comparing fuel costs and choosing the right solution for you may take some time, but the savings can be well worth it.

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Ayer Heating Tip: Hydronic vs. Forced Air System

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Both hydronic and forced air heating systems can serve you well depending on the specifics of your Ayer home and your household heating needs. Certainly each of these types of home heating systems has advantages and drawbacks, but there is really no clear cut answer about which is better. All you’ll be able to determine is which one is best for you.

While current discussions about hydronics have come to focus on the applications for in floor radiant heating, this category of heating systems is actually much broader than that. Really, all the term hydronics means is that the system uses water to carry the heat throughout the house instead of air. This is what traditional radiators always did, and these types of systems are certainly still perfectly appropriate for certain types of homes.

Particularly if your home doesn’t already have ductwork installed, hydronic heating might be the best option for you because it doesn’t require ducts to get the job done. All you’ll need to have installed are pipes to carry the water to different parts of the house. These pipes are much easier than ducts to install and take up much less space overall.

If you’d like to include radiant floor heating as part of this system you’re certainly able to. However, using only this type of heating to heat your entire house is not particularly efficient or practical. Radiant flooring is particularly useful in basements because no matter how warm the air in the room is, the floor in these areas will still be cold.

However, if you do already have ducts installed in your home, it may make perfect sense for you to have a forced air heating system installed. While there are sometimes problems with the evenness of the heating experience that you get with these types of heating systems, proper installation of a high quality system can usually mitigate those types of issues.

Forced air heating systems are also convenient because they are made to work in concert with many types of central air conditioning systems. If you have hydronic heating and think you’d like to have a central air conditioning system as well, you’ll either have to install multiple window or wall units or have ducts put in anyway.

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What Size Furnace is Right for My Home? A Question from Bolton

Friday, November 11th, 2011

When it comes to your Bolton home’s heating equipment, the right size is very important.  An incorrectly sized furnace may result in many cold spots in your home, an overworked furnace, or higher utility bills.

An undersized furnace will turn off and on frequently, which is called short cycling. Short cycling can lead to moisture in the system, causing less efficiency and damage to equipment from accumulating moisture in the heating system. The constant cycling adds to wear and tear on equipment, too. An oversized furnace may not be able to keep up with the demand for heat during the coldest days. The furnace may be constantly running and unable to keep up – adding to higher utility costs. So size really does matter when it comes to selecting the right heating equipment for your home.

But a big furnace does not mean it is right-sized. Have you ever seen a “five-way” gravity furnace? It was manufactured in the mid-1900’s and took up a lot of room – as much as half of a basement – while being extremely inefficient. The key here is efficiency. A furnace that works right is sized to the space it is heating, which does not include attics, crawlspaces, or uninsulated rooms (porches, mud rooms, etc.).

A furnace must make efficient use of its Btu’s, which is abbreviated for British thermal unit. Btu is used to measure a furnace size. Furnaces are often rated by input Btu, which is the amount of energy consumed when running. The output Btu may be different based on the system. And output Btu is the best way to select a furnace, since this is the actual heating capacity.

When sizing a furnace, the first thing to do is to determine the inside space that will be heated. If you are looking to heat your home, you can measure the square footage of each room (multiply width by length). The rooms should include bathrooms and hallways but exclude attics and crawlspaces. Add up the totals and match up the Btu output to the total square footage. If you aren’t sure of your calculations, call a qualified heating and cooling contractor.

There are many factors that go into heating a home and today’s energy efficient furnaces give homeowners many more choices. Whatever furnace you choose to purchase, make sure you do your homework and hire a qualified professional HVAC contractor to determine the best size furnace for your home.

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