Why Your High-Efficiency Furnace Isn’t Saving You Money

December 10, 2014

You feel cheated. You paid extra money—good money—for a high efficiency furnace. You were told it could pay for itself over time through lower heating bills.

But they seem just as high—if not higher.

What the heck is going on?

It’s hard to say without inspecting your system, but common problems include: 

  • Leaky air ducts
  • Oversized furnace
  • Dirty furnace filter

Let’s explain these one at a time.

Leaky air ducts

Leaks ductwork is one of the biggest energy wasters in your home. According to ENERGY STAR, the average home leaks about 20% to 30% of the air in the ductwork.

So if your ductwork leaks about 20% of its air (which is huge), a 90% (high-efficiency) furnace is really running at about 70% efficiency.  And if you close your air vents in unused rooms, duct leakage gets even worse.

Do you have rooms that are hard to heat? Do you have air vents with weak airflow?

If so, you probably have air duct leaks that need sealing by a professional

Oversized furnace

“Oversized” just means the furnace is too big for your home.

When a furnace is too big, it heats your home too quickly and turns off after only 5 to 10 minutes of runtime. This constant turning on and off is a big energy gobbler, increasing your energy bills as a result.

Your furnace needs a longer running time (20 to 30 minutes) to work efficiently.

If the contractor who installed the furnace used a “rule of thumb” (that is, sized the furnace based only on the home’s sqft) your furnace may be oversized.

Dirty furnace filter

A dirty furnace filter restricts airflow to the furnace, forcing it to work harder to pump hot air into your home.

This problem is compounded if your high efficiency furnace has a variable speed blower. This blower will ramp up as high as it can to overcome the dirty air filter (which is essentially acting as an airflow barrier now), using more and more electricity.

Check your furnace filter pronto and change it if it’s dirty. 

Need a new filter? Here’s our air filter buyer’s guide.

Want a professional to take a look at your underperforming furnace? Santa Fe Air Conditioning and Heating serves the Kansas City area. For more information, contact us online.

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