Buying a furnace presents some complicated choices, and the more knowledge you have beforehand, the better choices you'll make. Although you'll need help from an HVAC professional to choose the exact system for your home, start the selection process by learning about the two most important components, which are the size of the system and its energy-efficiency rating.
The size of your furnace has a big impact on your comfort and heating bills. Going by the size of your existing equipment when choosing a replacement may be misleading, especially if you have increased your home's energy efficiency over the years. The tool that HVAC professionals use is called Manual J, and it factors in the following inputs to arrive at the optimum size:
- Cubic footage you need to heat;
- Insulation levels;
- Amount of air infiltration;
- Windows, their placement and energy efficiency;
- Layout of home;
- Preferred temperatures;
- Number and ages of family members;
- Heat-producing appliances and your usage;
- Lifestyle factors.
When the HVAC professionals come to your home, the first thing to ask is whether they use Manual J. If they do, you'll know you're getting the precise size for your home. A furnace that's too big short cycles, which means it turns on and off too frequently, adding wear and tear to the system and not providing balanced heating. If you choose one too small when buying a furnace, you may find yourself shivering on the coldest winter days.
The energy efficiency of your purchase drives your heating costs for years to come. Fuel-burning systems are rated by AFUE, the annual fuel utilization efficiency rating. Expressed as a percentage, the minimum legal AFUE for a new central air furnace is 78 percent. High-efficiency furnaces can get close to 100 percent efficiency. While they cost more, in our cold-winter climate your savings long-term will offset the initial cost. Another efficiency consideration is to learn how much electricity the blower uses to move the air through your home.
If you'd like more information about buying a furnace, contact Joe Behr Plumbing & Heating. We've provided quality HVAC services for the mid-Ohio area since 1965.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Mid-Ohio area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about buying a furnace and other HVAC topics, visit our website.