Furnaces may not operate at the designed efficiency all the time, whether they’re brand new or getting old. Watch out for these seven signs that your Asheville, NC furnace isn’t operating as efficiently as it should.

1. High Utility Bills

Pay attention to your utility bills and watch how much fuel you consume during the colder months. If you see a spike that’s more pronounced than the temperature change outside, it’s a sure sign of waning efficiency.

Utility bills can spike due to needed furnace repairs when one or more component isn’t working properly. These spikes can also be tied to aging systems and minor maintenance issues like clogged air filters.

2. Low AFUE Rating

AFUE stands for Annualized Fuel Utilization Efficiency and is the rating of how much heat your furnace loses with the exhaust. Modern furnaces have a minimum AFUE rating of 80%, which means they can lose up to 20% of their heat. This may not seem like a lot, but that’s essentially wasting $20 for every $100 you spend on heating costs.

If you have an older system, your furnace may have an even lower AFUE rating. This isn’t something that will come on suddenly but is just a fact of your system. To find your furnace’s rating, check for the yellow ENERGY STAR label or ask your service technician.

3. Long Heating Cycles

For most gas furnaces, heating cycles will last roughly 10 to 15 minutes. The exception is high-efficiency furnaces with modulating burners and variable-speed fans. These will run nearly non-stop to maintain your home’s heat.

For most mid-efficiency systems, long heating cycles indicate it isn’t heating your home efficiently. This may indicate something as simple as an airflow restriction at the air filter. However, it may also indicate more serious problems that require repairs or even a new system.

4. Cool Air from Your Vents

High-efficiency systems will produce just enough heat to maintain the temperature set on your thermostat. Mid-efficiency systems run on high all the time and have a minimum heat rise of about 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat rise is how much hotter the air is coming from the supply vents compared to the ambient air.

With proper heat rise, the air coming from the supply vents should feel noticeably warm. If it doesn’t, there’s a variety of possible problems, all of which mean less heating efficiency. These range from dirty air filters to ductwork leaks or even problems with fuel combustion and heat transfer.

5. Frequent Cycling

Just like extended cycles are a problem, so is having more cycles than normal. Ideally, your furnace should run between two to three cycles per hour.

When your heater runs more frequently, it’s likely shutting off before raising the temperature in your home. Experts call this phenomenon short cycling, which expends extra energy and adds excessive wear to your system.

The underlying culprit is often either overheating or malfunctioning sensors that protect against overheating. In both cases, it prevents your system from effectively and efficiently heating your home.

6. Your System Is Old

The average gas furnace should offer a service life of 15 to 20 years. HVAC experts often see a decrease in heating efficiency over the last few years of service. This usually corresponds to an increase in repairs needed due to naturally wearing components.

If your system is more than 15 years old, you can assume that it’s not running as efficiently. Furthermore, technology is constantly evolving, so a new furnace will usually offer better efficiency than a 15-year-old model.

7. Your Home Isn’t Consistently Warm

If your home seems like parts stay cold all the time while other parts warm up, you have efficiency issues. This often stems from the system’s inability to circulate warm air throughout your home. The underlying cause is usually either short cycling or airflow restrictions from the air filter. The cause could also be a circulating fan problem.

Pay attention to the signs that your furnace isn’t operating at the right efficiency. Keep it working well by calling our experts at Gentry Service Group to schedule furnace maintenance.

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