Believe it or not, summer is one of the best times to buy a new furnace because you won't have to worry about being without heat during a sudden cold snap. Choosing the right furnace can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you don't have enough information to make an informed decision about your purchase. Fortunately, this in-depth guide offers plenty of actionable tips that can help make finding the best furnace for your home a bit easier.
Consider Your Fuel Source
Natural gas, electric, or oil? In most cases, you'll want to stick with the fuel type you're already using. This means if your previous furnace relied on natural gas or propane, then you'll want to purchase a replacement that uses the same type of fuel. This makes the installation process much easier since you already have the necessary hookups and utility connections for your new furnace.
If you're building a new home or if you're in the process of changing the type of fuel you using, you should know which fuels are available in your area as well as their benefits and drawbacks:
- Natural gas is readily available in most areas and relatively cheap to use when compared with other fuel types. However, it can be expensive to have the requisite gas lines installed.
- Propane is a good alternative in areas where natural gas isn't available or if the cost of connecting to existing infrastructure is too expensive. On the other hand, you'll have to lease or purchase a propane tank, deal with the ins and outs of refilling and sometimes pay a bit more for propane versus natural gas.
- Heating oil is highly popular in colder regions of the nation due to the higher amount of heat per BTU that can be unlocked while being burned. However, it's also one of the most expensive fuel options available and most furnaces that use it aren't as efficient as comparable gas or propane units.
There are also electric furnaces that rely solely on heating elements to provide warmth. They're perfect for homes where the above fuel options aren't available, but they can also be expensive to operate. Electric heat pumps use the same air conditioning technology to produce reasonable amounts of heat. While these heat pumps were once effective only in areas with relatively mild winters, newer variants now offer better cold weather performance.
Size Matters, Even With Furnaces
You might've heard plenty about the importance of choosing the right size equipment when shopping for an air conditioner. The same basic principles also apply to choosing a furnace. A furnace that's too large or too small won't deliver the heating performance your home needs to maintain comfortable temperatures, plus it could condemn your new heating system to a rather short life. Your home's heating load will dictate the ultimate size of your furnace, which refers to the amount of heat it's capable of providing in order to keep your home reasonably comfortable.
Figuring out your home's heating load is a task that's best left up to your HVAC contractor. Using the advanced Manual J load calculation process, your contractor can find out your home's exact heating load. With this information, you'll be able to right-size your furnace without worry.
Aim High When It Comes to Efficiency
It's also crucial to choose a furnace that offers the best energy efficiency. The less energy a furnace is able to use to provide comfortable heat, the less you'll end up paying in energy costs. That said, it's important to look at the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings when choosing your next unit. A furnace that offers an AFUE of 98 percent or higher can transform 98 percent of its fuel energy into usable heat.
It also pays to consider advanced features that can help your furnace use less energy without sacrificing heating performance. Dual heat exchangers and variable-speed blowers are just a couple of features that offer improved energy efficiency and enhanced comfort.
If you'd like more information about what kind of heating system to install, ask the pros at companies like Laroc Refrigeration-Metal Division.