Monthly Archives: November 2013

Single-Stage or Two-Stage Heating — What’s the Difference?

One of the more recent improvements in heating systems for our region is a two-stage furnace. They make more sense in an area like ours over a single-stage heating system, which runs at top speed only. In our climate, a system that can run at a lower speed in a mild winter climate can lead to reduced utility costs.

How Two-Stage Heating Works

The gas valve adjusts itself in a two-stage heating system so that the heating cycle starts on low. If the sensor inside the system finds that your home doesn’t need much heating, the system will continue to run on low. However, during extremely cold weather, it might ramp up to the higher setting, opening the gas valve and running the air handler’s fan at the highest speed.

Advantages of a Two-Stage Furnace

  • Reduced short cycling – When your furnace short cycles, it turns on and off more frequently, driving up energy bills and increasing wear on all the parts, which can potentially cause premature part failure.
  • Increased comfort – Because the two-stage furnace runs at a slower speed, it heats the air more evenly and heating the air in each room thoroughly. A single-stage heating system that runs continually on high can leave rooms further from the air handler cooler. A two-stage heating system also runs more quietly since the fan isn’t running as fast.
  • Better indoor air quality – The longer running speed traps more airborne particulates, improving the quality of your indoor air. If someone in your home has allergies or asthma, switching to a two-stage system could lessen their symptoms.
  • Better heating efficiency – Combustion heating systems have an efficiency rating known as the annual fuel utilization efficiency, or AFUE. It indicates how efficiently the system uses fuel. While a two-stage system may have the same AFUE as a single-speed system, it’ll be more energy efficient because it doesn’t use as much fuel or electricity to run in the slower heating mode.

For more information on a two-stage furnace versus single-stage heating, contact Keith Air Conditioning. We proudly serve homeowners in and around Mobile and Baldwin counties.

Using a Portable Heater? Consider Switching to Ductless

If you’ve been using a portable heater to warm a space in your home that’s not served by your heating system, like a garage, you might want to look into ductless heating instead. Over the long run, using a ductless mini split for your heating needs can save you money and keep you safer.

A ductless mini split is a heat pump that uses no ductwork to deliver conditioned air. Like a heat pump, it’s an energy-efficient appliance, unlike many portable heaters. Heat pumps work by moving heat from one place to another. In the summer, they take it out of your home, and in winter, they extract it from the outdoor air.

Heat pumps have two primary components: an indoor air handler that vents directly into the space and an outdoor condenser. A flexible conduit that carries the refrigerant, drainpipe and power connects the two. This requires just a 3-inch hole through an exterior wall to connect the air handler and condenser.

If you’re using an electric portable heater, you’ll save substantial energy dollars by switching to a mini split system. Mini splits have the same energy efficiency requirements that heat pumps do, indicated by their coefficient of performance (COP), which can range from 2 to 4 or even higher. The COP indicates how much heat the heat pump creates from one unit of energy. A unit with a COP of 4 creates four times the heat from one unit of energy. Portable electric heaters, on the other hand, create just one unit of energy from each unit they use.

The ductless heating system also offers advantages over portable heaters that use combustion fuel, like kerosene or propane. Some of these heaters burn nearly all the fuel they use, which increases their efficiency, but they’re not as safe as a ductless system. Although these systems have sensors that measure the room’s oxygen content, there’s always the risk of the sensor malfunctioning.

To learn more about using ductless heating versus a portable heater, contact the experts at Keith Air Conditioning. We serve homeowners in the Mobile and Baldwin County.