Replacing your central heating system’s old furnace with a newer and more efficient model can help to offset energy prices that are volatile. In addition to saving money, the furnaces available these days pollute less and raise your comfort level through producing heat on a steadier basis compared to old furnaces. The common heating fuel for furnaces is gas and we will be focusing here on gas furnaces in this article.
In order to receive the best deal that you can, give a minimum of three contractors a call and ask them for written estimates.
The specifications of your furnace needs to fit your requirements. If a furnace is too small, then during very cold weather it won’t be able to keep your home comfortable.
To avoid this, in most homes the furnaces are larger than what is necessary. This strategy has a few drawbacks to it. First of all, there is the initial cost. Also when a furnace is too large it will have a tendency to cycle on and off too frequently. This may cause uncomfortable variations in temperature, waste energy and put more wear and tear on the components. A larger replacement furnace may need larger ducts as well. Air flow might be noisy if the ducts are not the right size.
In order to ensure a proper installation and correct sizing, a reputable contractor should be hired who will take the time to accurately calculate what your heating needs are by following an industry standard like the Air Conditioning Contractors of America’s “Manual J HVAC Residential Loan Calculation.” These equations take several factors into account, including your home’s construction, design and size as well as the climate. After the furnace has been installed, it should be maintained on a regular basis according to the recommendations provided by the manufacturer.
Efficiency Matters as Well
Currently gas is the most common type of heating fuel. Gas is used by a majority of modern central heating systems. How efficient gas is converted into heating energy by a furnace is reflected in its AFUE (annual fuel-utilization efficiency) rating, measured in terms of a percentage. A higher rating means the furnace is able to wring more heat from each gas therm. Fewer emissions are generated by efficient furnaces, so your decision might also be influenced by environmental considerations.
Over the years, furnaces have become increasingly energy-efficient. A gas furnace built during the early 1970’s had a typical AFUE of around 65 percent. For new gas furnaces, the lowest efficiency that law allows is 78 percent, and there are some new models that are able to achieve nearly total efficiency of up to 97 percent.
The cost of a furnace tends to increase at its fuel efficiency increases. A furnace that has an AFUE of 90 percent may cost $1,000 more than a unit of similar size with an AFUE of 80 percent. However, the additional cost can often be recouped through having lower fuel bills over the furnace’s lifetime. How long it takes to recover our investment cost will depend on other factors in addition to AFUE. Electricity needed for running furnaces with various AFUE can be significantly different. Your payback time can also be affected by local electricity and gas rates, how well your house is insulated and the climate that you live in.