At this time of year, many homeowners decide to replace their aging home furnace with a new model that’s more reliable and energy efficient. There are many brands available, lots of modern features to evaluate, and options to boost energy efficiency. All of these choices can make the decision making process long and involved. To make things easier, we’ve put together this list of five useful things that you need to remember when you replace your old gas furnace.
- A Gas Furnace Primer
Ideally, every homeowner wants a furnace that delivers comfort without breaking the bank. The best way to achieve this goal is to choose a furnace that has a great energy efficiency rating. This is represented by an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency or AFUE rating that’s expressed as a percentage. The higher the number, the better the energy efficiency, and the lower your energy bills will be. Every domestic gas furnace must have an AFUE of at least 80%, and furnaces with an AFUE of 90-98% are considered to be high efficiency gas furnaces. As one might imagine, high efficiency furnaces cost more initially, but the lower energy bills allow the user to recoup their money in the medium to long term. It’s also worth mentioning that many utility companies offer a rebate for customers that install a high efficiency furnace.
- Choose Some Desirable Features
Here are some of the more desirable features that may be available as standard or as an option on your next gas furnace.
Air Filtration: This could be a high efficiency particulate arresting or HEPA filter or an electrostatic filter that traps particulates using an electrical charge. Both of these methods reduce dust in the heating system to make it cleaner.
Zoned Heating: This separates the home into zones that can each be controlled independently with the thermostat. This allows the user to cool or heat individual spaces for more flexible and energy efficient cooling and heating.
Variable Speed Blowers: This allows the user to control the speed of the furnace fan motor to control the delivery of treated air more accurately.
Electronic Ignition: A direct spark ignition or hot surface ignition (HSI) system are the two most common electronic ignition types in use today. Both of these ignition systems are easier to use and more efficient compared to older pilot light ignition systems. An electronic ignition system is not turned on constantly, and this saves more energy than you might imagine.
Multi-Stage Burners: A multi-stage or modulating burner can be electronically adjusted to deliver the exact warmth to your home at any time.
Humidifiers: This is a great feature for winter; it adds moisture to the air to reduce dry skin issues and ease breathing difficulties.
UV Lights: Adding an Ultraviolet or UV light to your system will kill bacteria, mold, and other harmful airborne micro-organisms that can trigger allergic reactions and exacerbate health problems.
- The Size Matters
Many people believe that they must purchase the largest HVAC system that they can afford to achieve optimal heating, cooling, and energy efficiency. This is not the case; a furnace or air conditioning system needs to be sized correctly to get the best results. If the system is too large, it will cost more to run, and it may short cycle on and off repeatedly because the space reaches the desired temperature too quickly. If the system is too small, it will run constantly in an attempt to reach the temperature set on the thermostat. This will use more energy, and there will be hot or cold spots. As you can see, it’s very important to get heating and cooling equipment that closely matches the home. For this reason, it’s important to contact a certified HVAC technician and ask about a load calculation. This is a complex formula based on a series of measurements that also takes into account the layout of your home. Using this information, the HVAC technician will be able to advise you on the size of system that you need for a more comfortable home without breaking the bank.
- Install a Smart Thermostat
Many people are familiar with programmable thermostats that operate with a timer system to turn the system on and off and set the desired temperature. This is a useful feature, and these types of thermostats have improved a great deal over the year., But, we’ve seen a move towards “smart technology” in recent years that give the user an unprecedented level of control over a variety of different devices, including HVAC systems. With a smart thermostat in the home, a user can control their home environment remotely via an app on their smartphone, tablet, or computer. The temperature and other aspects of the system can be controlled in real time. This is extremely useful and a very efficient way to run an HVAC system. Now there is no need to pay for energy to heat a home if the user is delayed at work for an hour. The system can be monitored to spot any potential issues, and alerts will warn the user if there is a problem. The user even gets a reminder when it’s time to change the air filter.
- Understand the Parts and Labor Warranty
Every good furnace manufacturer will offer a product warranty for the furnace that you purchase. A warranty could include one or more of the following four aspects:
- Manufacturer parts.
- Manufacturer labor.
- A heat exchanger warranty.
- A contractor parts and labor warranty.
The length of the warranty and the exact provisions will vary a great deal depending on the manufacturer. So it’s important to read the warranty carefully before making a final purchasing decision. In certain cases, the manufacturer may require the service history of your system before they will honor a warranty provision. This is another good reason to schedule annual servicing for your HVAC equipment. Any parts or service that are not covered under your manufacturer’s warranty could be covered under a service agreement supplied by your contractor. If you purchase a service contract like this, you will not need to consider out of pocket expenses caused by repairs or breakdowns for the duration of the agreement.