Most of us only know the basics about how our HVAC systems work: hot air comes from the furnace, cool air from the air conditioner, air comes out from the vents in the floors/wall/ceilings. And while that’s true, some “behind the scenes” factors are involved in keeping your home a comfortable temperature. So if you’ve ever wondered about how the air in your home is heated, cooled, or cleaned, you’re in the right place. Also, be sure to check out our Blog for frequent updates on HVAC learning!
Types of HVAC Systems
To start with, here’s a basic breakdown of the types of Carrier HVAC systems available:
Split system: A split system has products that reside both inside and outside your home—often the air conditioner unit outside, and the furnace inside. Some split systems consist only of an outdoor unit―such as a heat pump or air conditioner―and an inside fan coil. If that’s the case, there’s usually another heat source in the home like baseboard heat or a boiler.
Ductless split system: A ductless split system doesn’t rely on air ducts to spread treated air in your home. Instead, this specialty system is designed to heat or cool places in your home that don’t have access to the per-existing duct work, such as theater rooms, exercise rooms, garages, or home additions. Ductless split systems include:
- Small outdoor air conditioner or heat pump unit
- A compact indoor wall unit
- Refrigerant tubing and wire connections―pass through a small hole from indoor to outdoor unit to connect the system.
- On unit or remote control―your interface for controlling your system
Ductless systems are great for older homes, or in situations where only one room is experiencing climate control issues. More information is available on our Michigan and Ohio Air Conditioning Blog. Click here to learn more.
Learn More abo0ut Ductless Systems on our Ductless Page
Geothermal system: A system that uses the Earth’s thermal energy for both your heating and cooli
HVAC Ratings & Classifications
It’s easy to look at two similar units and wonder what exactly makes them distinctive. Here’s a list of some common HVAC industry rating measurements:
- SEER: Stands for “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio”, and is the measure of efficiency by which the cooling process of air conditioner and heat pump systems is rated. A higher SEER number means more efficiency.
- AFUE: Stands for “Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency”, and is the measure of efficiency for gas- or oil-fired furnaces. Measured in percentages, AFUE identifies how much heat is lost when the unit is operating. For example, a furnace with an AFUE rating of 90% would have a heat loss of 10%.
- HSPF: Stands for “Heating Seasonal Performance Factor,” and measures the efficiency of the heating mode of heat pumps. The higher the number, the greater the efficiency and cost-saving capabilities.
- COP: Stands for “Coefficient of Performance”, and measures certain heat pumps’ efficiencies in heating mode. This measurement is most commonly seen with geothermal units.
- EER: Stands for “Energy Efficiency Rating”, and measures the cooling efficiency of geothermal systems.
More information on HVAC Raitings and classifications are available on our Michigan and Ohio Air Conditioning Blog.
Hopefully this will make it easier for you to understand what all the various technical details that accompany an HVAC unit’s description actually describe, and what they mean in terms of real-world impact.
Repair? Replace? Before you do either for your HVAC system, read on…
If it seems like a private tropical island may be cheaper than your heating bill, your HVAC equipment may be to blame. Read on, and we’ll let you know if you need some repairs—or a whole new system.
Can you rekindle your relationship with your furnace?
The first step is getting to know your furnace. First, how old is it? A typical furnace lasts about 20 years. And chances are, the older it is, the less efficient it is. Furnace efficiency is determined from the AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) number, which describes how much fuel that’s consumed is actually used for heat, and how much is simply wasted. For example, if your AFUE rating is 60, your furnace is converting 60% of its fuel to heat for the home, and losing the remaining 40% of heat, usually through venting. So the higher the AFUE number, the better the efficiency. And while no furnace operates at 100%, some get pretty darn close.
Now that you have this number, look for your energy bill. Depending on how much fuel your furnace wastes, you can easily calculate how much money you’re unnecessarily spending every month. In many cases, the significantly lower energy bills that result from replacing your furnace with a more efficient unit let you recoup the replacement expense in just a few short years.
What condition is your air conditioner in?
If there’s an exception to the old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” rule, it has to do with air conditioners. Here are just a few reasons why you might feel the need to pull the plug on your current HVAC unit right now:
- Your air conditioner needs frequent repairs and your energy bills are going up—your cooling equipment may have become less efficient
- Your cooling system is noisy—newer, variable-speed and even 2-stage systems tend to operate quieter.
- You take the EPA’s home assessment test and your Home Energy Yardstick score is below five—your home energy use is above average and you’re probably paying more than you need to on energy bills.
In fact, the EPA recommends you consider replacement of your air conditioner if it’s over 10 years old. Aside from the boost in efficiency, a new air conditioner can also save you money down the road. For example, by replacing an old 10-SEER unit with a new 21-SEER unit and proper indoor coil, you could save up to 56% on your cooling costs.
Whether you decide to upgrade or repair your HVAC system, contact a Carrier expert to ensure the job is done quickly and correctly. They will give you tips, insights, advice and recommendations that take the guesswork and hassle out of creating the perfect new HVAC system for your home―or help you get the most from the system you already have in place―both in terms of comfort and cost. Our network of HVAC experts extends from Toledo, OH, to Detroit, MI, and all the way to Grand Rapids and the Upper Peninsula. So no matter where you are, we can help. Also, be sure to check out our air conditioning blog and our heating blog.