Auto companies are on a never-ending quest to build the most fuel-efficient cars. In the world of HVAC, the never-ending quest is to squeeze every degree of heating or cooling from electricity, natural gas, and propane. Over a period of years, or even decades, the quest has been extraordinarily successful, but the journey is not over. There are technological advancements in furnaces and air conditioners virtually every year.
Energy-efficient fan motor mandate
One of the recent advances is something called electronically commutated low-wattage motors. That’s definitely a tongue-twister so in the trade, they are just called ECMs. Just like other recent advances, they make furnaces more energy efficient. Starting this summer, July 3, 2019, ECMs are now required as the blower motors on all new furnace replacements.
How ECMs will affect you
Merts Heating & Air Conditioning and other contractors are allowed to install the old-style motors if the furnaces were already in stock. Going forward all furnaces installed will have the ECM fan motors. Here’s what you can expect:
It’s difficult to put an exact number to it, but the new motors do increase the initial cost of the furnace. Don’t overreact to that because owners should get their money back.
Over the life of the furnace, the Department of Energy estimates the ECMs will save consumers $340 to $500.
Breaking it down:
The motors themselves are also more energy efficient. The ECM motors generally reduce energy usage by about 46% compared to the older-style motors. There are too many variables to quote you an exact figure, but you should see decreased energy costs in your South Chicagoland or Indiana Lake County Region home over the course of a year.
ECMs and the repair vs. replace decision
The new mandate is one more factor homeowners should consider when deciding whether to do a furnace replacement. If a problem is found during a tune-up and it’s determined a furnace repair is needed, the greater energy efficiency of the ECM fan motors means it could make more sense to replace rather than repair. Merts will help you crunch the numbers so you have all the information you need, but it’s a decision only you can make.
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