Understanding the Efficiency of Your System
Furnaces are rated by the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratio, which is the percent of heat produced for every dollar of fuel consumed. High efficiency units are rated between 78% and 96% AFUE.
- Like the miles-per-gallon rating on your automobile, the higher the AFUE rating, the lower your fuel costs. All furnaces manufactured today must meet at least 78% AFUE. If your furnace is 10 to 15 years old it may fall below the current furnace minimum and waste energy.
- This doesn’t mean that you should only select a furnace based on its AFUE rating. The efficiency rating is just one factor to consider when looking for a new furnace.
- Furnaces use electricity to run fans and motors. The amount of electricity used varies greatly depending on the type of furnace. Be sure to check electricity usage prior to making a purchase decision.
Carbon Monoxide Warnings
Protect Your Family from Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas produced by the incomplete combustion of fuels such as wood, natural gas, gasoline, diesel, kerosene, coal and charcoal. It is caused by the lack of oxygen or a disruption in the burning process.
Unfortunately, the symptoms are easily overlooked because they are often flulike. With mild exposure, most people experience headaches, fatigue and nausea. Medium exposure can cause a severe throbbing headache, drowsiness, disorientation, confusion and an accelerated heart rate. Extreme exposure can lead to unconsciousness, convulsions, cardiorespiratory failure, coma and possibly death.
- Household appliances such as your furnace, water heater, stove, space heaters, charcoal grill and gas dryer can be sources of carbon monoxide, especially if they are not in good working condition or have been installed improperly. Vehicle exhaust fumes from attached garages, as well as improperly operating fireplaces, also can become carbon monoxide hazards, particularly if your home is well-sealed for energy efficiency.
- Carbon monoxide can be an invisible threat to your family’s health and safety. Though more commonly associated with fires and automobile emissions, carbon monoxide poisoning can accumulate in any home unless certain precautions are taken.
- Use a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is a device very similar to a smoke alarm. It monitors the air for carbon monoxide and sounds an alarm if a specific level is detected. Ideally, you should have one detector adjacent to every living area in your home.
- Carbon monoxide detectors are most effective when used in combination with preventive maintenance. For more information on how to schedule regular maintenance for your furnace or about purchasing a carbon monoxide detector, contact your Airflow representative.
- There are several measures you can take to reduce your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Because vehicles are a major cause of carbon monoxide poisoning, always back your car out of the garage to let it warm up. Never leave it running in the confined space of a garage, particularly if the garage is attached to the home. The same holds true for lawn mowers or snowmobiles. Never use ovens or grills for heating devices.
Home heating systems represent only 5% of potential carbon monoxide sources. Though the amount of carbon monoxide produced is not substantial, it is important to schedule annual maintenance visits by your qualified Airflow technician to make sure your HVAC system is operating properly and not emitting carbon monoxide
The Benefits of Indoor Air Quality Systems
Keep Your Family Healthy with Clean Air
Many everyday household items contribute to poor indoor air quality. Compounds found in carpeting, furniture, upholstery and drapery fabric consistently emit gas or fumes. Other sources of pollutants can include, but are not limited to, cleaning agents, paints and personal care products.
Allergies and asthma are two health problems that can be helped with clean indoor air. When airborne irritants are removed, allergy and asthma sufferers often find relief from their symptoms. Even healthy people who have never suffered from allergies can benefit from clean air.
There are several factors to consider when choosing a filtration system, starting with sensitivity to allergens. The more sensitive a person is to allergens, the greater the need for a high-efficiency filtration system.
- The efficiency of the air filter is important. Efficiency is measured in terms of the particle size an air filter can capture. The higher the efficiency, the more effective it is. Look for the filter’s MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) number, an industry standard that rates filters based on their performance. Residential filters typically have a MERV range of one to eight.
- Cost is another major factor—both in terms of the initial purchase price and expense of maintenance and upgrades. Purchasing a filter of reasonably high quality can save you money over the long term. Inexpensive filters may not provide the level of filtration you need and may also require frequent filter replacement.
- Pleated filters are constructed of fiberglass or synthetic fibers woven into a dense material. The pleats are arranged in V-shaped forms to increase the area of the filter material without increasing the face area. This increases the particle-holding capability.
- Germicidal lights use intense ultraviolet light to sterilize surfaces. Each solution removes particles, bioaerosols and chemicals, depending on the size of the allergen.
- Activated carbon and microbiocide-treated filters remove odor and kill bacteria. Carbon filters are more effective at removing odor. Microbiocide-treated filters trap bacteria as the air is pulled through, which inhibits growth of biological contaminants.
- UV light units help decompose contaminants such as bacteria, chemicals, dust mites, animal dander, cat saliva and mold through a process called photocatalytic oxidation. When the UV lights are installed in the ductwork of your central air and heat system, they can eliminate most of the organisms in the treated area.
- Electronic air cleaners take recirculated air and pass it through a prefilter that traps large pollutants. Then, ionizing wires give a positive electrical charge to remaining particles. A negatively charged collecting section collects the particles. Pollutants pass through an optional carbon filter that absorbs unwanted odors.
- ERVs (Energy Recovery Ventilators) and HRVs (Heat Recovery Ventilators) bring fresh air into the home and exhaust stale air out. An HRV conserves energy from indoor conditioned air and transfers it outdoors. An ERV does the same thing, but it also maintains the desired humidity levels to keep the house comfortable.