Don’t leave it up to the salesperson to tell you what you should be looking for when it comes to buying a new furnace-- you should be aware of key furnace features that save money and increase your comfort. Be an informed consumer so that you make a choice that is right for your family.
Here are the main considerations you will have to make when choosing a new furnace:
Narrow your search by selecting only furnaces that carry the Energy Star® mark. This mark means the furnace is in the top 15 percent to 30 percent of energy efficient units. Also check the Energuide label displays the expected cost to operate the furnace over the course of a year. You may have to adjust the cost according to your local utility prices.
Want to learn more about the Energy Star program? Read our recent article here.
When evaluating the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency percentage or AFUE, a bigger number is better. It signifies how much of the energy entering the heating system is used to heat your home. The highest efficiency propane, natural gas or oil furnaces have a 95 percent AFUE. Electric furnaces are always 100 percent efficient, but the cost of electricity per BTU may be higher than other fuels.
Furnace size is expressed as BTUs per hour. Your home’s BTU/hour requirement takes into account the floor area of your house as well as its level of insulation. Many websites can help you calculate this number or consult an energy expert at your local utility. If the furnace is sized too large, you are wasting money for excess capacity. If the furnace is too small, your home’s comfort suffers during the coldest months of the year.
A variable-speed fan reduces cycling of your furnace, which reduces fuel cost, and operates more quietly once the home reaches the thermostat setting. Most of the time, you will hardly know that the furnace is operating as it maintains an even temperature throughout the house.
Now that you know a bit about furnace features, you can evaluate the choices offered by installers, who usually quote a package deal for the furnace and installation. Take into account any government tax incentives for high-efficiency units that may apply too.
Be sure the contractor breaks down the bid so you know how much you are paying for the furnace itself. Ask them if your current ductwork is compatible with the new furnace and if it should be modified to increase home comfort. If you do not like the furnaces offered by the contractor, ask them for a specific model or choose another contractor.
Check the installer’s technical qualifications for furnace installation such as that given by the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada or HRAI. Also, be sure to follow up on previous customer references or check online reviews.
Installing or replacing a furnace is a major decision. Installation is a major expense, and you must consider the potential lifetime fuel and maintenance costs in the financial calculation. It is equally important to consider the comfort a specific furnace offers.
If you’re interested in discussing your home heating needs, contact us today for a consultation.