Faced with “Repair or Replace” Decision? Some Tips…

Homeowners often face the decision of whether to repair or replace their furnace. Before making this important decision, answer the following questions:

  • Is your system in overall good condition? If so, it might be more cost- effective to repair it.
  • How long are you planning to live in your home? If you are moving within a couple of years, evaluate whether a new system will increase the value of your home. If the cost outweighs the investment value, consider repair. If you are planning on living in your home for many more years, consider the benefits of a more energy efficient system.
  • Have you addressed insulation and duct work? Proper insulation and seals can save up to 20 percent on your energy costs.
  • Are you using a programmable thermostat? A programmable thermostat can save up to 30 percent in energy costs.
  • Have you performed the Home Energy Yardstick? Use this tool to score your home’s energy efficiency.

Consider repairing if:

  • Your system is less than 15 years old.
  • The repair is under $500.
  • The overall condition of your system is good.
  • Your energy bills are reasonable and not concerning.
  • Your Home Energy Yardstick score is 5 or above.

Consider replacing if:

  • Your system is over 15 years old.
  • Your system needs frequent repairs.
  • Your Home Energy Yardstick score is less than 5. If the energy savings of a more efficient unit will cover all or part of your investment, consider replacing it.
  • Your utilities costs are constantly rising.
  • You are concerned about air quality. Consider replacement with an energy-efficient system that can reduce the potential for air contaminants like mold, bacteria, and dust.

A general rule of thumb that can be helpful in deciding whether to repair or replace your furnace is to add up your energy costs for the past winter and multiply by 20 percent. Divide that number into the cost of buying and installing. This is an estimate of how many years it will take to recoup your investment.

Of course, you can also count on T.F. O’Brien for expert advice on repairing vs. replacing your furnace. We can walk you through the options and help you make an educated decision. Call us if we can help.

Proper Insulation is a Major Factor in Controlling Energy Costs

You are paying just about half of your monthly utility bill to heat or cool your home. Given the tough economic times, all of us are looking for ways to cut our expenses, and significant savings may be found by better controlling your energy costs. Sealing up a home with additional home insulation is an excellent way to save money and make your home more comfortable.

It is especially critical going into the  Long Island  winter that you make sure your home has enough insulation. Insulation is measured or rated in terms of its thermal resistance or R-value.   An R-value indicates the insulation’s resistance to heat flow.  A higher R-value means greater insulating effectiveness.

The R-value depends on the type of insulation, and includes its material, thickness, and density.  When calculating the R-value of a multilayered installation, add the R-values of the individual layers.  Installing more insulation in your home increases the R-value and thus the resistance to heat flow.

Most local utility companies will perform free energy audits to determine if your home has the proper insulation. The attic is one of the first places to check to make sure that air is not escaping through the roof. Outside walls also need to be checked to make sure that air is not escaping to the outside.

It is also important to check around windows and outside vents which are common spots for air infiltration. Where there is a problem, small holes can be drilled in the wall and fine pieces of insulation can be blown into the gap to seal it up.

In addition to installing more home  insulation, there are other energy saving tips that can cut costs. Ask your skilled T.F. O’Brien HVAC technician about installation of a programmable thermostat  or have them perform an air infiltration inspection which will determine exactly how much cool air is coming into the home during the winter.

T.F. O’Brien services the Long Island, New York area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about preventive maintenance and other HVAC topics, please download our free  Home Comfort Resource guide.