Do you have an old, inefficient home furnace that needs to be replaced? When choosing a forced air furnace it is important to consider your home size, device placement, heating costs, and energy efficiency.
Use these tips to buy a top quality furnace that will provide comfortable heat for years to come, without wasting your money.
1. Get the right furnace size
Installing a furnace of the right size is key to having enough heat in your house and not overspending. If your furnace is too small, it will obviously not heat your entire house properly. However, having a furnace that is too big is also not good. While you will have no heating problems, you will be wasting fuel and money on generating heat that you don’t actually need.
To determine the proper size, you would need to match heat output, measured in British thermal units (Btus), with the size of your home. Keep in mind that your house size is NOT just square footage. You should also consider factors like insulation, number of windows, and ceiling height.
The easiest way to determine the size of the new heating furnace is to look at your existing furnace. If you are satisfied with the heat, go with the same size. If you have built an addition, you will need a bigger device. To be sure that you are getting the proper size, it is best to ask an HVAC contractor to come in and do an in-house evaluation. A pro can tell you exactly how big of a furnace you need.
The average inspection may cost around $300. If your home is bigger than 2,000 sq.ft. expect to pay $400+. This additional expense may be worth it, as you will ensure that your space is properly heated for the next 15-20 years.
2. Improve energy efficiency: look at the AFUE rating
When shopping around, one of the most important metrics to look at is the furnace’s AFUE or annual fuel utilization efficiency. A high AFUE number indicates high energy efficiency. This means that you will be able to lower your monthly heating bills. The only caveat is that you need to make sure that your air duct system is intact and your house is well insulated. Otherwise, you will be wasting heat and spending a lot of money. Without proper insulation in your walls, windows and doors, even the most energy efficient furnace will not save you much money.
A high efficiency furnace (AFUE over 90%) costs $1,000 or more than a regular furnace (AFUE of 80%). If you live in an area where cold temperatures last for many months, investing in a high efficiency model may be worth it. Monthly savings on heat will not only allow you to recoup the difference, but will also provide considerable savings afterwards. However, if you live in a more moderate climate, it may not be worth it to invest into a high efficiency furnace.
For optimal energy efficiency, you should install a programmable thermostat. It will save you energy and money, by reducing the amount of work your furnace does. It will also lower the temperature when no one is home. In an 8-hour time frame, for each degree you turn down the thermostat, you will reduce your heating bill by about 2 percent.
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3. Select your fuel source wisely
There are gas, oil or electric powered forced air furnaces available. Gas is the most popular, because it is most readily available across the USA. It also tends to be most economical and cleaner than oil. Since 2002, it has been on average 30-50% cheaper to heat with natural gas than with oil. A gas furnace is also cheaper to purchase and install than an oil one.
If gas is not available in your area, oil is your best bet. While electric furnaces are cheaper to both purchase and install, they cost a lot more to operate. Moreover, they are not very efficient, especially if you have a larger size home.
4. Must have features
If your want your furnace to work well for many years, here are the key features it should have. These are worth spending extra money on.
Two stage valves: they control the flow of fuel. When it is first turned on, the furnace will run high, and then on a lower flow to maintain the desired temperature.
Sealed combustion: helps protect your house from dangerous carbon monoxide and is also more energy efficient.
Long warranty: if you purchase a more efficient and expensive model, you will have the security of a longer, more comprehensive warranty than one on a budget furnace. Be sure to check both the manufacturer and the HVAC installer warranties, as these may vary and have different terms. Also, it is best to have a long warranty on the heat exchangers.
5. Get a high-end filter to ensure good indoor air quality
Its no secret that a furnace blows dust particles into the atmosphere, which can negatively impact the air quality in your home. If someone in your family has asthma, allergies or other lung related problems, you should fit your furnace with an electrostatic filter.
This filter uses an electrical charge to help trap dust particles, making the air more clean. Alternatively, you can also get a high-efficiency particulate-arresting (HEPA) filter, which will do a similar job. Even if no one in your household has respiratory issues, getting one of these filters will ensure that your home has the best possible environment.
6. Save money with a modulating gas furnace
If you live in an area with long, cold winters, you can save a lot of money by purchasing a modulating gas furnace. While these models are more expensive than regular gas furnaces, you can adjust the heating output very precisely. A modulating furnace can regulate output by 1 percent increases. This enables the system to adjust how much gas is needed by the minute! Consequently, this translates into increased comfort throughout the home and greatly reduces your heating costs.
The average cost of a modulating gas furnace is $1,550-2,400
7. Plan ahead
Don’t wait until your home furnace breaks in the dead of winter and you are scrambling to find and install a new furnace fast. If you have a very old furnace, do your research ahead of time and schedule a replacement. This way, you will be able to find the best deal on a good quality furnace. Moreover, you will also have time to get quotes from different local HVAC contractors, and get the best price.
Installation prices can vary dramatically depending on the contractor, so its best not to rush in to the first offer you get. If you live in the Northern states, try to schedule your install during the summer months. During this time, many HVAC companies are less busy and may be willing to give you a price break.
5 Top Ranked Forced Air Furnaces
Here are the best heating furnaces that HVAC pros recommend to homeowners. These devices consistently offer reliability, great high-tech features, long service life, high efficiency, and easy maintenance.
1. Goodman GMSS96 – 100k BTU – Gas Furnace – 96% AFUE ($1,084)
2. Rheem – 150K BTU – Upflow/Horizontal Gas Furnace – 80% AFUE ($1,367). Rheem devices are known in the industry as being one of the least likely to require repairs.
3. Daikin DM96VC – 2 stage modulating gas furnace – 96% AFUE ($2,900)
4. Armstrong A97USMV – 70K BTUH – 2 stage modulating gas furnace – 97% AFUE ($2,500)
5. Comfort-Aire – 95K BTU – Upflow Oil Furnace – 83% AFUE ($1,449)
$3,300 - $3,900
$4,000 - $4,500
$4,500 - $5,200
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