Furnace Buying Tips

What to Consider When Buying a Furnace

By Mark J. Donovan

If you own a home long enough eventually you’re going to end up having to buy a furnace. Contrary to first time home buyers thoughts, furnaces wear out. In addition, if you put an addition onto your home, or finish a basement or attic, chances are you’ll need to buy a larger furnace to heat the home and/or water. Also, even if your old furnace is still operating you may want to replace it. Old furnaces often have energy efficiencies in the 60% range, whereas new furnaces can have efficiencies easily in the 90% range.

Consequently, installing a energy efficient furnace will result in dramatic energy cost savings down the road.

When it comes to buying furnaces there are a number of choices available to you. First furnaces can run off different types of fuel including natural gas, propane gas, oil, and electricity. Second, furnaces are rated for different British Thermal Unit (BTU) outputs. Consequently it is important to make sure you buy the right size furnace for your home. If you buy one too small, it will run all the time and eventually it will wear out. If you buy one too large you may be wasting money, both in the expense of buying it and the cost of operating it.

Summarized below is some key furnace buying tips when shopping for a new furnace for your home.

Gas Furnaces

First and foremost you should decide on what type of fuel you plan to operate the furnace off of. The gas furnace is one of the most affordable furnaces to buy. But this said, they can be more expensive to operate based on current propane and natural gas costs. Gas furnaces, like most other furnaces, also need to be annualy inspected to make sure they are operating efficiently and safely. They are however extremely efficient due to their design and the fact that propane and natural gas are clean and efficient burning.

Electrical Furnaces

The electrical furnace is also reasonably cost effective to install, however it is usually more expensive to install than a gas furnace. Operational costs for electrical furnaces are fairly high, however it depends upon the rate you pay per kilowatt hour for electricity in your area. On the benefits side, electrical furnaces are extremely clean to operate. There are no pollutants that are spewed into the atmosphere, at least not at the home. Also, there are no concerns with inadvertent carbon monoxide poisoning, as is the case with gas and oil burning furnaces. As a result, electrical furnaces are safer to operate, if installed properly by a licensed electrician.

Oil Furnaces

Oil furnaces are more expensive to purchase and install. However, home heating oil is usually cheaper than gas and electricity, for the same BTU output. On the negative side, oil furnaces due spew pollutants into the air and they do give off carbon monoxide. Thus, as with gas furnaces, they need to be properly vented via a chimney of some sort. In addition, oil furnaces need to be inspected annually by a trained and licensed service technician.

Heating air system

Energy Efficient Furnaces

Another key furnace buying tip is selecting one with high energy efficiency. Gas furnaces, for example, are rated on efficiency by the Annual Fuel Utilization ratings system (AFUE).

The higher the rating number assigned by the AFUE, the more heat that is produced by the furnace, for the same amount of fuel burned. Lower AFUE rating furnaces typically cost less, however you get what you pay for. Buying a lower AFUE rating furnace will inevitably mean spending more on fuel to operate it annually. When buying a gas furnace, look for ones with an AFUE rating of at least 88%. Though it may cost you more money up front, you’ll easily save money in the long run.

Oil and electrical furnaces have similar rating systems. So again, with these types of furnaces invest for the long haul in a highly efficient furnace.

The quietness of operation is another key furnace buying consideration. Not all furnaces are created equal when it comes to noise output. This can be a major concern if the furnace is to be located near a finished living space. Make sure when buying a furnace to look for one that has multiple speed operations, particularly with gas and oil furnaces. With multiple speed operations, usually two, there is the ability to control the level of noise produced by it. Also, by controlling the noise level you can also often improve the comfort of the heat that it produces.

For information on how to maximize a wood stove’s heating efficiency, see HomeAdditionPlus.com’s Installation of Hood over Wood Stove eBook

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