When chilly weather rolls around, nothing could be more important than being comfortable in your own home and having peace of mind. Having the right home heating system for your home and specific needs can provide that comfort and peace. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, home heating and cooling accounts for more than half of the average homeowner’s utility costs. If your home has an outdated, inefficient older furnace, it could be needlessly raising your energy bill. Likewise, if you purchase a new, energy-efficient furnace model that is incorrectly sized for your home, you could still be at risk for higher costs.
Careful consideration when selecting a new furnace provides many benefits. Your new furnace replacement will be able to handle the comfort needs of everyone in your family, reduce your utility bill, improve your indoor air quality, and extend your furnace’s lifespan, allowing you to enjoy a warm, stress-free fall and winter for years to come.
Various characteristics of your new furnace unit, such as type, size and efficiency, affect the amount it will cost to keep your home toasty when the temperature drops, as well as how long your furnace will continue operating at peak levels after years of use during the peak heating season. Purchasing the incorrect furnace for your home will result in a variety of potential issues that will cause stress instead of keeping you warm and comfortable during the winter months:
- Poor system efficiency – Each home has its own specific heating needs. The incorrect system, even an energy-efficient model, can be inefficient in your home due to size or type.
- Increased repair and maintenance costs – When you install the wrong size or type of furnace for your home’s size or needs, it can put stress and strain on the unit to keep your home comfortable, resulting in more frequent maintenance and need for repairs.
- Shortened furnace lifespan – When your furnace struggles to keep up with your heating needs, it will cycle on and off frequently, increasing wear on your system, and eventually require replacement, whereas a unit suited to your home will provide years of service.
- Inconsistent heating during fall and winter – Your furnace needs to be carefully selected for your home and your geographical location to ensure that it not only provides sporadic heating during cooler fall months, but can handle constant use during frigid winters.
- Increased safety risks – A furnace replacement that is incompatible with your home’s specific size and needs can greatly increase the chance of residential fires as well as heighten risks of carbon monoxide exposure.
Asking the Right Questions About Your New Furnace Replacement
When it comes to time to select a new furnace for your home, there is no such thing as a bad question. In order to reduce headaches due to heating issues created by purchasing the wrong system, here are some basic questions all homeowners should ask themselves and their heating contractor before any installation begins:
- How has your family’s heating needs changed since the last time you purchased a furnace? If you have added members to your family, they might have different comfort needs than yours. For example, welcoming a new baby or an elderly parent into your home may require higher temperatures.
- What are your heating needs other than “warm air?” Newer furnace models are able to be programmed to heat specific rooms or areas, and automatically turn on or off as scheduled.
- What energy-efficient models are available, and how can you compare them? Higher-rated annual fuel utilization efficiency models can save you considerably on your utility costs.
- What brands of furnaces are available? Some of the more popular brand names include Trane, Lennox, Goodman, Rheem, York and Carrier. Find out which models are available in your area to compare them.
- Are there any special deals/ warranty/rebate? In addition to specific deals offered by your contractor or the furnace company, many government agencies and utility companies offer incentives such as rebates and tax credits to encourage purchasing energy-efficient furnaces.
- How much space do you have in your home? The square footage of your home is an important consideration in order to select a furnace model that can tackle heating that specific size of indoor space.
- What areas of your home need the most heat? Many systems offer furnace types that can specifically heat only certain rooms or areas, so that the furnace only sends warm air to spaces that need it.
- How is your indoor air quality? Many people suffer from allergies due to indoor air quality issues such as mold, mildew, pollen and dust. Upgrading your system can significantly improve your indoor air quality.
- What fuel type should you choose? Depending on your geographical location, there are a variety of fuel type options available, such as gas, electric or solar.
- What is the age of your current furnace? Heating technology has seen big advancements in the last decade. If your current furnace is more than 10 years old, it’s time to consider replacing it with a more energy-efficient model. Even if it is still keeping your home warm, it’s most likely costing you more to run than a newer model.
No matter what type of furnace you ultimately choose to heat your home, you should always select the most energy-efficient model you can afford. The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) is the standard measure of furnace efficiency determined by how much of the energy entering a furnace converts to heat for your home. In order to be certified by Energy Star, gas models in northern states must have an efficiency rating of 95% AFUE or greater, and those in southern states must have an AFUE rating of 90% or higher. Oil furnaces in all regions must have an efficiency rating of 85% or higher. By choosing the highest efficiency model you can afford, you will save the maximum amount on your seasonal heating costs.