A Beginner’s Guide to the Variable-Speed Furnace

 A Beginner's Guide to the Variable-Speed FurnaceWith our variable climate here in the Greater Kansas City area, your HVAC system works most of the year, either providing heating or cooling. Any advances that could reduce running costs on such constantly used equipment are worth learning about. A variable-speed furnace is one such upgrade you should consider for long-term energy savings and improved heating performance. Advantages. Variable-speed furnaces use two or more modes of operation, the optimum mode being chosen automatically by the machine. Because the more economic modes involve lower burner output (and a lower fan speed), this operation is sometimes also referred to as “two-stage firing” or “multi-stage firing.” Not only does the technology reduce fuel consumption, it also makes for quieter operation. Further, reduced airflow enables the system to better control temperature in your home, resulting in moderated temperature swings. Air filtration is also improved in a system that operates near continuously at a lower speed.

Two Stage Gas Valves. Traditional furnaces have a single gas-flow capacity: full tilt. That’s a requirement through December and January in Kansas City, but can be uneconomical through the milder months of our heating season. Two-stage gas valves have a second setting, chosen automatically by the equipment, which operates at about 60 percent of full blast. Typically, the furnace fires in first (60 percent) mode, only switching to second (100 percent) mode if first-stage operation fails to satisfy the thermostat.

Fan Technology. The two-stage gas valve is augmented by a two-stage blower. Variable-speed furnace fans conserve energy by switching between higher and lower rotational speeds to match the burner operation. However, they have another trick up their sleeves: they typically use special energy-efficient motors, called electronically commutated motors (ECMs) or brushless DC (direct current) motors. Even when running at full speed, ECMs consume less power than comparable conventional motors.

Energy Star. In common with all domestic fuel-burning appliances, variable-speed furnaces labeled with the EnergyStar label use less energy than comparable equipment that hasn’t earned the distinction.

To ensure you make the right decisions when upgrading your heating system, please schedule a consultation with the expert technicians at Overland Park Heating and Cooling. We provide superior HVAC services to Kansas City and its surrounding communities.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Overland Park, Kansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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