Heating Ventilation and Cooling Fact Sheet

Heating your home during the winter and cooling during the summer can be the number one energy expense. To learn about energy saving tips, click the links below!

Gas Furnaces
Gas Boilers
Electric Heat Pumps
Electric Heat Pump Water Heaters
Ground Source Heat Pumps

Central Air Conditioning
Fuel Switching

 


Gas Furnaces

With a forced-air furnace, a blower forces heated air through supply ductwork to condition indoor spaces. Room air is drawn back into the furnace air plenum to be reheated and distributed. A central air conditioner can be easily combined with the furnace for cooling. A furnace has an average life of between 18 and 20 years.

Energy Saving Tips

  • The efficiency of a furnace is indicated by its Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). This is the ratio of the heat output compared to the total amount of energy consumed. Although this rating does not account for some heat loss in the ducts, furnaces sold today are typically between 78% AFUE and 96% AFUE.
  • Retrofitting Furnaces: By adding certain devices to your existing system, you can increase the efficiency and save money on your energy bill.
  • Addition of a vent or flue damper prevents chimney losses and closes off vent when furnace is not on.
  • Set backs save money. At night and when you are away from home, turn down the thermostat. You can save about 1% of your heating bill for every degree that you lower the thermostat for at least 8 hours each day. Turning down the thermostat from 70°F to 60°F saves about 10% ($100 saved per $1,000 of heating cost).
  • Maintenance: Improves furnace efficiency. Clean or replace the air filters within the system, clean registers and make sure the return and supply registers are kept clean and not blocked by furniture, carpets, or drapes.
  • Duct Sealing: In homes heated with warm-air heating, ducts should be inspected and sealed to ensure adequate airflow and eliminate loss of heated air. Ducts can often leak as much as 15-20% of the air passing through them. Leaky return ducts can bring additional dust and humidity into living spaces. Thorough duct sealing can cost several hundred dollars but can cut heating and cooling costs in many homes by 15-20%.

PECO offers $300 per unit if the ENERGY STAR NATURAL GAS Furnace is 90% AFUE or higher.


Gas Boilers

Boilers heat water, which is then distributed throughout the home by means of a water pump and distribution piping. Once the heated water reaches the living area, it is circulated through radiators, baseboard convectors, radiant floors, or heating coils in air handling units to condition indoor spaces. The water is piped back to the boiler for reheating. A boiler has an average life of 25 – 50 years.

How to Buy?
Boiler systems should be sized to meet the maximum household demand during the normal heating season. Boilers that are too small will not provide sufficient heat and boilers that are too large will cost more and be less efficient. A correctly sized boiler will reduce maintenance costs by starting and stopping less often, and reducing the amount of heat lost up the flue during the off cycle. When you are selecting a contractor, ask that they use a sizing tool like ACCA Manual J to take into account factors including:

  • Size, shape and orientation of the house.
  • Local climate.
  • Insulation levels.
  • Type of construction.
  • Window area, location, and type.
  • Air infiltration rates.
  • Your family’s particular heating needs.

The most common sizing mistake is buying an oversized unit. This can result in large – and uncomfortable - temperature swings – higher installation cost, shorter system life and higher energy costs.

Boiler Efficiency. The efficiency of a boiler is indicated by its Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). This is the ratio of heat output compared with the total amount of energy consumed. Although this rating does not account for some heat loss in the ducts, new boilers today are typically between 78% AFUE and 98% AFUE.

Besides using less energy, investing in an efficient boiler will improve the comfort and air quality of your home. Efficient boilers cycle on and off less often and have more advanced controls to provide the desired temperatures throughout your home. Some boilers operate as sealed combustion units that draw air for combustion from the outdoors rather than from inside your home.

Energy-Saving Tips

  • Retrofitting a Boiler :by adding certain devices to your existing system, you can increase the efficiency and save money on your energy bill. Addition of a vent or flue damper. Prevents chimney losses. Closes off the vent when the boiler is not firing. Intermittent ignition devices: Applies to older gas systems that are equipped with a continuous pilot light. However, these are difficult to install – hire a professional to do this. Cost about $250 and typically have a payback period of less than 10 years. Save money in fuel costs, but are not always cost effective for aging equipment.
  • Derating Gas Burners: This applies to oversized systems in many homes. Reduces the heating capacity of your gas boiler to make it operate more efficiently. Reduces the size of the gas burner orifice, and possibly also the baffles. Should only be done by a qualified technician. Should cost less than $100 and can save up to 15% of your fuel costs.
  • Modulating Aquastats: An aquastat monitors the temperature of the water in the boiler, but a modulating aquastat, or “outdoor reset” control senses outdoor conditions and changes the hot water temperature in the boiler in relation to outdoor temperature. The units cost several hundred dollars, and can save up to 10% of fuel costs.
  • Time-Delay Relay: A time delay relay is a way to squeeze more heat out of your system. When the thermostat clicks on, the relay causes the boiler to circulate residual hot water through the system without firing the boiler. The boiler will fire up only after a set time. A time delay relay costs about $100, but can cut your fuel costs by up to 10% and makes use of all of the energy you pay for. If you are retrofitting your existing system, have the technician perform a combustion-efficiency test, and adjust the burner for peak efficiency.
  • Thermostats: At night, turn down the thermostat when you are away from home. You can save about 1% of your heating bill for every degree that you lower the thermostat for at least 8 hours each day. Turning down the thermostat from 70°F to 60°F overnight saves about 10% ($100 saved per $1,000 of heating cost).
  • Observe the state of the vent connection pipe and chimney. Parts of the venting system may have deteriorated over time. Chimney problems can be expensive to repair; instead you may consider purchasing a new heating system that does not need a chimney. Check the condition of the heat exchanger. If you suspect a leak, have the boiler examined by a trained professional.
  • Water temperature settings. Adjust the controls on your boiler to provide the most appropriate water temperature settings for both efficiency and comfort. Test the relief valve and high-limit control.
  • Trapped Air. Bleed trapped air from hot water radiators and follow prescribed maintenance for steam heat systems, such as maintaining water level, removing sediment, and making sure air vents are working. Check with your heating system technician for specifics on these measures and use caution: Steam boilers produce high-temperature steam under pressure.
  • Tune up the heating system. Oil-fired systems should be tuned up and cleaned every year, gas-fired systems every two years, and heat pumps every two or three years.

PECO offers $300 per unit if the ENERGY STAR NATURAL GAS BOILER is 85% AFUE or higher. For more information click here.

PECO offers $1,000 per unit rebate to customers that purchase a ENERGY STAR HIGH-EFFICIENCY GAS FURNACE - 90% AFUE or higher (replacing Electric Base Board or Electric Furnace) / $550 per unit ENERGY STAR HIGH-EFFICIENCY GAS FURNACE - 90% AFUE or higher (replacing Electric Heat Pump) /$300 per unit for a ENERGY STAR NATURAL GAS FURNACE 90% AFUE or higherFor More information click here.
PLUS, when you convert from another fuel source and make natural gas your primary heating fuel you could receive an additional $400, for more information click here.


Electric Heat Pumps

Heat pumps provide both heating and cooling from a single system. In the heating mode, air-source heat pumps draw energy from outside air, thus they heat most efficiently when outdoor temperatures are above freezing. At lower outdoor temperatures, built-in electric resistance heaters with much higher operating costs, kick in to maintain adequate heat delivery. A heat pump with a microprocessor defrost control can save energy by "learning" to defrost only as needed. A heat pump should have an outdoor lock-out thermostat that keeps the supplemental heater off when the outdoor temperature is greater than the heat pump's "balance" point (usually 25 to 40°F). Air-source heat pumps have a service life of about 15 years.

PECO offers $325 per unit for ENERGY STAR AIR-SOURCE HEAT PUMP that are 15.0 SEER or higher (12+ EER, 8.2 HSPF) or $400 per unit for ENERGY STAR AIR-SOURCE HEAT PUMP that are 16.0 SEER or higher ( 12+ EER, 8.2 HSPF)

For more information, click here.


 

Electric Heat Pump Water Heater

How to Buy?
To size an electric heat pump water heater properly, you must determine its First Hour Rating (FHR). The FHR accounts for the effects of tank size and the speed at which cold water is heated.
To determine the projected size of the water heater, you should consider how much hot water is used during the busiest time of the day, the size of your house, and the size of your family.
The efficiency of the model is measured by the Energy Factor (EF). The EF is an indicator of how much fuel was used in relation to the amount of hot water actually produced and used from the tap on a typical day. This figure is formulated based on:

* Recovery efficiency: how efficiently the heat from the energy source is transferred to the water.
* Standby losses: the percentage of heat loss per hour from the stored water compared to the heat content of the water (water heaters with storage tanks).
* Cycling losses: the loss of heat as the water circulates through a water heater tank, and/or inlet and outlet pipes
* Electric Heat Pump Water Heaters require significantly less electricity than standard electric water heaters, and can thus be up to three times more efficient. These systems usually have Energy Factors of 2.0-2.5.

Energy Saving Tips

* Insulation: Adding an insulating blanket will increase efficiency. A blanket ranges from only $10-20. Insulating your water pipes will reduce the energy losses from the tank to the faucet. When installing, use plastic or rubber foam 3/4 inch coverings.
* Lowering the Thermostat:Use the lowest temperature setting that can provide your home with adequate hot water (generally 120°F or between the “low” and “medium” settings). Lowering the setting by 10°F results in 3-5% saving in energy costs. Thermostat dials can often read inaccurately. Adjust for the right temperature at the point of use. If you are traveling, turn the thermostat to either the lowest setting or turn the heater off.
* Heat traps: These devices prevent the unintended hot water flow out of the tank, and will save you from $15-$30 annually on your water heating bill by stopping the convection of hot water out of the tank and into the supply piping. Many new systems have such trapping devices already installed.

PECO offers $300 per unit for ENERGY STAR HEAT PUMP WATER HEATERS that are 2.0 EF or higher. For more information, click here.


Ground Source Heat Pumps

Ground-source heat pumps (often called geothermal) draw energy from or deposit energy into the relatively constant temperature of soil or groundwater. Although excavation or well drilling costs may be high, ground-source systems are more efficient than air-source heat pumps and cost less to run, because the earth or groundwater is a warmer heat source than air in the winter and a cooler heat sink in the summer.

PECO offers $217 per ton for ENERGY STAR GEOTHERMAL HEAT PUMPS that are 3.3 COP or greater. For more information click here.


Central Air Conditioning

Central Air Conditioning systems are used to cool large portions of homes. They are large energy users and account for much of the summertime home energy usage in the United States.

How to buy?

Rules of thumb for equipment sizing do not work in modern homes and should not be used. For the best results in comfort, efficiency, and durability, integrate HVAC system design for both equipment and ducts in the overall architectural design. Work closely with a HERS rater, HVAC engineer, or HVAC contractor to properly design, size, and select HVAC equipment. If done properly, this single step goes a long way toward improved energy efficiency and comfort and substantial cost savings.


The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) has published simple but effective methods for determining loads and sizing ductwork and heating and cooling equipment.

  • Manual J tells how to calculate loads.
  • Manual D tells how to size ducts.
  • Manual S is a selection guide of appropriate heating and cooling equipment to meet identified loads.

For more information or to purchase these documents on the Web, go to the ACCA Web site.

What are my Options?
The Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) and the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) have developed an online database which can be used to find qualifying ENERGY STAR equipment. All equipment listed in this online database meets the specification requirements for ENERGY STAR. This online database is solely maintained and operated by CEE and ARI. Search CEE-ARI Online Database

Energy Saving Tips
Central air conditioners should be rated at a minimum of 13 SEER for air cooling and heat pumps should be rated at a minimum of 7.6 Heating Season Performance Factor (HSPF) for heating. In September 2006 DOE began enforcing a 13 SEER standard for all residential central air conditioners. Until recently, SEER-10 air conditioning equipment has been standard across the country. But SEER-11 and SEER-12 equipment is becoming more widely used. SEER-12 equipment is nearly always cost-effective. Consider using SEER-14 air conditioning equipment to achieve performance levels greater than 30 percent savings. Equipment with SEER ratings up to 20 are now available. Currently, ENERGY STAR-labeled central air conditioners have a minimum rating of SEER 12.

What do I ask a contractor?
You can get better performance out of your cooling equipment by sealing your home and making sure your ducts don't leak.
Also, make sure that your contractor is not over-sizing the system, as discussed above.

How much can I save?
If your central air conditioning unit is more than 12 years old, replacing it with an ENERGY STAR qualified model could cut your cooling costs by 30 percent

PECO offers customers $300 per unit Energy Start Central AC with 16.0 SEER or higher (12+ EER). For more information, click here.

ALSO, If you enroll in PECO's Smart A/C Saver Program, you can save up to $120 on your PECO Bill! PECO Smart A/C Saver functions automatically. Technicians will install a small device outside the central A/C unit. PECO Smart A/C Saver is only activated at times of high energy usage, during the summer months of June through September. To enroll, Click Here!


Fuel Switching

PECO offers $1,000 per unit rebate to customers that purchase a ENERGY STAR HIGH-EFFICIENCY GAS FURNACE - 90% AFUE or higher (replacing Electric Base Board or Electric Furnace) / $550 per unit ENERGY STAR HIGH-EFFICIENCY GAS FURNACE - 90% AFUE or higher (replacing Electric Heat Pump) /$300 per unit for a ENERGY STAR NATURAL GAS FURNACE 90% AFUE or higher For More information click here.

PLUS, when you convert from another fuel source and make natural gas your primary heating fuel you could receivean additional $400, for more information click here.