Furnace efficiency can be affected by factors ranging from filter cleanliness to the amount of ductwork insulation. Often overlooked in heating system efficiency is the role of the furnace motor.
Motors determine your system’s airflow, which is how quickly and effectively conditioned air is moved from the furnace to rooms in your home. More efficient furnaces have better airflow, which they achieve through a type of variable-speed motor that improves the function of the entire heating system.
Older furnaces usually have permanent split capacitor, or PSC motors. They are cheaper than other types of motors, but are not as efficient. PSC motors generally operate at only one speed, turning off and on to maintain the temperature you’ve set at the thermostat. When they run, they run at their highest level, using a great deal of power. PSC motors can waste a lot of energy and tend to be noisy.
Modern furnaces often contain ECM, or electronically commutated motors. ECM motors operate at variable speeds depending on temperature settings and need for heating. They provide better furnace efficiency than PSC motors since they operate only at the level needed for meeting the comfort levels you’ve set.
The performance of ECM motors is more consistent since they can operate at different speeds as needed. They use less electricity during normal operation and do not waste as much energy when running at higher levels. ECM motors are quieter, provide better air quality, and offer improved home comfort. They also use up to 60 percent less electricity. Replacing an older motor with an ECM model can result in immediate savings of up to 20 percent on energy costs.
For help with determining what kind of furnace motor you have or for assistance with choosing an ECM furnace motor upgrade, contact one of our experts at Paschal Heat, Air & Geothermal. We have been serving customers in northwest Arkansas for more than 40 years.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about furnace efficiency and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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