Choosing a new furnace for your home doesn’t have to be torture. I’m going to give you a few things to look for to make it much easier.
1. Gas or Electric?
A gas furnace is less costly to operate than an electric if gas is readily available in your area. The downside to these is that burning fuel generates fumes. If you buy a new gas furnace though, or even a well maintained one, and maintain it well yourself, the fumes it generates are enclosed in its exchanger which remove them from your home via an exhaust fan.
Be sure to keep in mind a gas furnace really needs to be checked by a qualified professional at least once a year. This person will make sure there are no holes, leaks, or cracks which could let carbon monoxide escape into your home, which can be toxic or potentially lethal.
An electric furnace usually costs a little more than a gas furnace does. However, these do not use flames and do not generate carbon monoxide. These are safer and cleaner to use than the gas versions.
As with most things in life, the quality of the furnace will factor in as to how long it lasts and how well it performs. Deciding on a brand that costs a little more but has higher reviews and ratings can actually end up saving you more in the long run. Your local professionals can help you choose the brand that best meets your needs. You can usually easily find companies that give free estimates.
A gas furnace’s efficiency is determined by the AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) ratings. This tells you how efficient the particular unit uses the fuel, or gas. Usually, a higher AFUE rating means it uses less fuel to heat your area.
Unless you can find a sale or are just a deal seeker, the higher AFUE units will cost more than a lower AFUE unit but will cost less to run and will save you money over time. The government established standards for these ratings many years ago and set the minimum at 78%. Most furnaces only rated about 60% before 1992.
These can be called “induces draft furnaces” or “non-condensing furnaces” as well and are set the minimum standard of 78% up to about 80%.
These are also known as “condensing furnaces” or “sealed combustion furnaces”. They have an AFUE rating of up to 96% and can even offer two-stage valve and as well as an efficient variable-speed motor to raise comfort and effectiveness.
4. Comfort Features
There are many furnaces that offer features to increase comfort and efficiency.
- 2 Speed Furnaces
- Can function at low speed for most of the time and allows for quieter operation for longer time periods compared to a single speed furnace. Longer run times keep it from having to turn on and off as often, causing less drafts and very little temperature fluctuations.
- These also limit the temperature swing within 2 degrees as compared to the single speed competitors. 2 Speed units circulate air better creating a more consistent temperature in your home.
- Variable Capacity Furnace Features
- Variable capacities provide a combination of efficiency and comfort with a motor regulating your needs by automatically adjusting air volume and speed. These furnaces offer the most efficient heating and cooling available.
- These come with a fan that will reduce your cost during those hot summers. The central A/C benefits from increased efficiency, thereby saving you money on your electric bills, by using its fan throughout the summer.
5. Noise Levels
All furnaces will make some noise but each one has a rating for noise. 2-speed and variable-capacity units generally are quieter than others though they do run for longer periods of time. Some var-cap units offer features that reduce temperature differential to almost completely eliminate the “creaking” noises made from ducts expanding and contracting from temperature changes.
I hope this helps and you can stay comfy year round with whatever you choose. Always remember to contact a company or other professional for any questions you may have. It’s always better to ask than wind up regretting a decision and having to spend more money. Also keep in mind that self installs can void your warranty and potentially end up costing you a lot more.