The worst time to have to choose a new furnace is when your current system fails -- in the middle of winter. Pressures to get the heat back up and running can cause you to make a hasty decision instead of weighing your options.
When you don’t have circumstances pressing you to quickly replace your furnace, you can take your time to consider efficiency, fuel cost, and sizing in order to select the best possible system. This is ideal, since you’ll use it for at least the next decade.
Energy Star, a non-profit, government-sponsored program for home efficiency, recommends that homeowners consider upgrading when a heating system is more than 10 years old, because new technologies generally create much more efficient systems.
Furnaces are rated through their Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). A High-efficiency system starts at 90 percent AFUE, which means that it uses 90 percent of the energy it consumes to produce air to heat the home. If your current system is rated AFUE 70, you can expect to gain 20 percent in efficiency; this impacts your energy bills significantly, and the lifetime cost of the unit actually goes down due the energy you’re saving.
Fuel costs also play a role in your decision. While gas and electricity prices vary, it’s inevitable that they will increase over time. If you currently have a gas furnace, switching to a heat pump might make sense. A heat pump doesn’t actually create energy or heat; instead, it draws heat out of the air and transfers it inside your home. Because it doesn’t generate heat, it is highly efficient. Dual-fuel systems take advantage of heat pump technology and use a gas furnace as a backup source when temperatures get too cold for the heat pump to operate efficiently.
Finally, sizing is critical. A contractor should use the industry-standard Manual J method to calculate how much energy your systems need to keep your home comfortable.
Efficiency, fuel costs and sizing impact your decision. Avoid a time crunch, and contact Joe Behr. Our efficiency experts are available to answer your replacement questions.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
Joe Behr Plumbing and Heating, Inc. services the Mid-Ohio area. To get started, check out our website.