Your furnace isn’t what it used to be. Maybe it’s working harder to keep your home warm, driving up your utility bills. Maybe you’re being “nickel and dimed” with more expensive and more frequent repairs. Or maybe the unit is 15 years old or older and you know it’s living on borrowed time, so you want to replace it before it fails.
No matter what the reason, if you are thinking of getting a new furnace, here are 10 tips.
- Reputable dealer. Before you decide what to buy, decide who to buy it from. You want to buy from someone you can trust. While HVAC contractors and technicians do not need to be licensed in Illinois, you’ll want to make sure they are fully trained and NATE-certified. You’ll also want to make sure they carry sufficient insurance.
Also, check with friends and relatives. Check Google ratings, as well as objective third parties like the Better Business Bureau, Angi, and Best Pick Reports.
- Quality manufacturer. Most trustworthy HVAC contractors will be authorized dealers for a specific brand (or brands) of furnace. If you select a reputable contractor, chances are they are representing quality manufacturers. Still, it does not hurt to check with friends and relatives, and the sources mentioned above.
- Size. Contractor done. Manufacturer done. The most important thing after that is selecting the right-sized furnace. Too small and it won’t warm your house sufficiently. Too big and the unit will cycle more frequently, which could result in frequent repairs and a shorter life.
Several factors go into sizing, including the square footage of your home, insulation quality, and ceiling heights among others. Furnace size is measured in BTU or British Thermal Units. Your contractor will do a load calculation to help you determine the proper size.
- Fuel efficiency. Furnaces today are much more efficient than they were a few years ago. When you purchase a furnace, try to select one with the highest fuel efficiency (measured in annual fuel utilization efficiency – or AFUE). The higher the AFUE, the greater the efficiency. And while these may cost more initially, they will save you money in the long run through lower utility bills. An AFUE of 80 is now the minimum required in the U.S., while 95 AFUE will qualify for an Energy Star rating and the potential availability of government rebates.
- Fuel type. There are three types of fuel sources:
- Most furnaces run on natural gas, as it is the most economical energy source.
- Electric furnaces work similarly but run on electricity. They are generally used only in homes that do not have a natural gas line.
- Propane furnaces are appropriate for small areas but generally are not recommended. While electricity and natural gas won’t run out, propane will.
- Burner type. There are also three types of burners (also called stage) options:
- Single-stage furnaces have a flame that is either on or off. They turn on when it is time to heat the home, and then turn off when the desired temperature is reached. These units can also be noisy when they turn on.
- Two-stage furnaces are more efficient and quieter than single-stage units. They have two flames. The smaller one operates continuously when the temperature is mild, and the larger one turns on to provide more heat in colder weather.
- Multi-stage systems continuously warm your home within two degrees of the programmed temperature. These furnaces may be a bit more expensive, but will keep your home the most comfortable.
- Blower motor speed. There are also three blower motor speeds:
- Single-speed motors are either on or off. They provide inconsistent comfort and the highest energy costs.
- Multi-speed motors have three speeds and are more efficient.
- Variable-speed motors can make incremental adjustments. They provide the greatest comfort and are the most energy efficient.
- Zones. Different parts of your home may have varying temperatures – hot and cold zones – depending on various factors. For example, a kitchen may be hot and upstairs bedrooms cold. With a zoning system, each zone is controlled by a separate thermostat.
- Warranties. When purchasing your furnace, make sure you have a manufacturer’s warranty for parts, which should be good for five to 10 years. Your HVAC contractor may also offer you additional installation, parts, and labor warranties. Note: warranties may be invalidated if you do not keep up with maintenance; make sure you keep up.
- Credits and rebates. Manufacturers and the government may offer a variety of credits and rebates, depending on the unit you purchase. Generally, higher efficiency units will qualify for government rebates.
Contact Ravinia Plumbing, Sewer, Heating & Electric for Furnace Installation
Ravinia Plumbing’s HVAC pros can help you determine which furnace is best for you, and then install and maintain it. We are a licensed distributor of Carrier heating products and a nine-time winner of Carrier Corp.’s President’s Award for outstanding service. We’ve been in business since 1928 (that’s 95 years!), and we’ve made a name for ourselves as one of the most trusted and reliable plumbing, sewer, heating, air conditioning, and electrical companies in Chicagoland. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.