How To Make Smart Choices When Choosing A New Furnace

Posted on: 22 July 2015


If you live in the eastern part of the country or the Midwest, then your furnace is undoubtedly the most important appliance in your home because average temperatures between 15 and 25 degrees Fahrenheit are likely during the winter months. A good furnace can keep you warm even in the most frigid weather. However, if your heater is more than 20 years old, then you may notice parts and pieces starting to break on a regular basis. It is sometimes worthwhile to invest in a furnace repair, but you may not be willing to pay $1,000 or more if your heater is going to fail soon. It is much more financially responsible to buy a new one, and the information in this article will provide you with the tips you need to make a smart heating choice.

Do Not Just Look at Efficiency

The efficiency of the furnace is likely one of the most important aspects you will consider when shopping for a heater. However, you may be swayed by high efficiencies without really considering the type of furnace you are looking at. The efficiency of a furnace is measured in regard to annual fuel utilization, and this percentage is the amount of fuel that is used directly to create heat. For example, a furnace that is 80% efficient will lose around 20% of its energy through a flue or chimney. In general, furnaces must meet minimal requirements. An oil furnace must be at least 78% efficient while a gas one must be 80% efficient. A typical indoor electric furnace is between 95% and 100% efficient, because these is no energy lost through a flue opening.

The Costs of Heating

If you look at efficiencies alone, then a furnace that is over 95% efficient may look like the best option. However, the more efficient the furnace model, the more money it will cost. In addition to the upfront costs, the energy source may be more costly as well. This is typical for electrical units that boast efficiencies close to 100%, but cost around 10 cents per kilowatt hour to run. Many electric furnaces use 18,000 watts, so you will likely spend over $14 a day, or over $420 a month, to run the furnace an average of eight hours a day.

If you invest in a gas furnace that is only about 82% efficient, then you will likely pay around $14 for one million Btus of heat. Many homes use 150 million Btus a heating season at the most. If your heating season lasts five months, then you will pay about the same price for heat at $420 a month. This means that a cheaper and less efficient gas heater may be just as good, or better, than a highly efficient and expensive electric one.

It may be difficult to figure out your best heating option. This is why many people will contact a furnace or HVAC specialist so a professional heating cost analysis can be completed. The professional will take the size of your house, fuel costs, furnace costs, and heat loss into consideration. If you do not feel that you need an exact analysis, you can compare furnaces with an online heating efficiency calculator instead.

Consider Your Ductwork

Heating efficiency in the home does not just mean picking the best furnace. It also means making sure that the heat created is not lost before it enters your home. Hot air typically runs through ducts before it reaches the home vents. If your ducts have not been maintained and contain holes, then you may lose up to 30% of the heat generated by the furnace through the leaks. This means that you will likely see high energy bills and decreased efficiency no matter how much you spend on your furnace. Consider saving money on a less efficient furnace and opt for a duct replacement or professional sealing in addition to the purchase. In some cases, you may be able to purchase insulated ducts to decrease future heat loss issues and to gain good heat retention now.

For more information, contact a local heating repair and installation company.