Buying a New Furnace
You’ve noticed you are having more frequent and more expensive repairs to your furnace. Or your heating bills are going up. Or maybe your furnace is 15 years old and you’re thinking “it’s just a matter of time.” No matter the reason, you’re thinking it’s time to buy a new furnace before the old one fails on a frigid day.
Smart decision. But how do you go about deciding what furnace to buy? Here are some things to consider
Size matters. Too big a unit can unnecessarily increase utility costs; too small a unit will not heat your home adequately. Unit size should be based on factors such as home size as well as other factors such as the amount of shade around your home, insulation, types of building materials, number of occupants, and window efficiency. Make sure your contractor performs a Manual J load calculation measured in BTUs or tons when at your house.
Efficiency is measured in Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, or AFUE rating. This is the percentage of fuel that is converted to usable heat. Ratings range from 80% to 98.5%. The higher the rating, the more expensive the unit, but that initial investment will usually be offset by lower utility bills over the life of your unit.
There are a few options available:
- Gas furnaces are the most common. They run on natural gas and are the most economical way to heat your home.
Oil or propane furnaces also work fine, especially if you do not have a gas line connected to your house. But they require more room for storage, can be more expensive to operate (depending on oil prices), and are dirtier.
Electric furnaces are another alternative, but they can be exceedingly expensive to operate. An alternative is an electric-powered heat pump. They use less electricity, and can be used as an air conditioner in the summer. But they are less reliable in extreme cold (or heat).
Zoning systems can negate two potential problems: varying temperatures within your home, and using more energy than necessary to keep your home at a set temperature. A zoning system divides your home into different zones, with each zone controlled by a separate thermostat.
Variable Speed Blowers
Variable speed blowers are preferred to fixed-speed blowers. A variable speed blower will go faster in lower temperatures and slow down in milder temperatures. This keeps the termperature in your home more constant, saves energy, and reduces noise.
Rebates and Incentives
Check with your contractor on rebates and incentives. High efficiency units can qualify for local incentives and rebates.
Make sure you units comes with an adequate warranty. At least 10 years for the heat pump and one year for parts and labor. But also talk with your contractor about their service program, which can provide extended warranties.
You will want to purchase a maintenance contract from your contractor. This should include extended warranties, priority service in emergencies, maintenance reminders, and discounts on maintenance.
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