Devices called gas modulators can dramatically improve furnace efficiency in older furnaces, without needing to replace the system - provided that the furnace is in good condition.
Older furnaces operate in a single stage - they are either fully on, with the blower operating at full capacity - or off. Single stage furnace blower motors run at a single speed, and so are wasteful, when you need less air through the ducts, once the temperature is higher.
Newer furnaces are now two- or even three-stage systems, meaning that the blower motors can operate at two or three different speeds. These systems automatically adjust or modulate the motor speed based on system conditions and your thermostat, and therefore use much less fuel to operate. That means they run more efficiently and cost less to operate.
Homeowners of older single-stage furnaces typically get an efficiency of about 80% from their units. Installing a gas modulating kit can save an average of 20% on fuel use and costs - and improve furnace efficiency.
How Much Can You Save?
At a few hundred dollars for the kit without the cost of installation, the average savings will pay for the cost of the unit relatively quickly, depending on your fuel usage and costs. In the Northeast part of the U.S., where average heating costs for an older home is about $1,800 per year, a 20 percent savings in heat costs can be about $360.
The HeatMiser Modulator Can Improve That Clunker Furnace
Heat Miser is the manufacturer of furnace gas modulators, that I endorse. Consumers using single stage furnaces (according to the US DOE, approximately 20 million homeowners still have the single stage older units) can improve furnace efficiency by installing the HeatMiser in their older unit.
This allows the unit to run in two stages of efficiency without needing to replace the unit or install additional parts. Some users of the HeatMiser who have monitored their fuel bills report dramatic savings, however, it's important to make sure we are comparing apples to apples.
In other words, while I can calculate the HeatMiser savings from the technical standpoint, I also need to make sure that there were no lifestyle changes or atypical weather conditions during the monitoring period that might skew the results. For example, was the furnace run less due to less people in the home, or was the winter milder than normal, etc.?
If the single-speed furnace blower is modified to mimic a two-speed blower, then an average of 20% reduction in fuel use is reasonable, given that the system thermostat causes the unit to not cycle on and off as frequently, and the blower speed is lower at optimal temperatures.
How Much are These Modulators and How Do They Attach?
The HeatMiser installs directly to the existing older furnace unit. The cost of the HeatMiser is $297 This item arrives “install ready”. Having it professionally installed is recommended, buy not necessary. The HeatMiser comes complete with a 2 year warranty and a comprehensive 100% money back guarantee based on customer satisfaction.
An Important Note
Inspect and condition your furnace every year. Check for the integrity of all the combustion system and make sure that your filters are in good condition, and that your ducts are not only sealed, but also insulated. If your system is too old and unsafe (emitting carbon monoxide), a modulator and your furnace are worthless - consider a new Energy Star furnace, and apply for rebates or incentives.
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