You may think the middle of winter is not the right time to be thinking about whether the furnace will hold out. On the contrary, winter is a perfect time; most furnaces fail when they’re being used the most. If you have been putting off purchasing a new one for the last few years, wanting to wring every minute of life out of the old one, now is the time to act. Why not go ahead and get it done, if only for the reason that you don’t want to get caught without heat when Old Man Winter is breathing down your neck?
Depending on your budget, you have several options to consider about which model will work best for your household. Look for furnaces with high-efficiency ratings so you’re not wasting energy and money, too. A rating in the high 90s means your furnace is converting much of the energy it draws on into heat. The minimum efficiency available is 80, but who wants to pay for a machine that wastes 20 percent of the energy put into it?
Options for Fuel
You may not have a choice when it comes to selecting the fuel source. For those who do, and for those who would like to switch, here are your options:
- Natural gas: The hands-down favorite due to its low cost. Even in the grip of winter, when the heater runs throughout the day, it’s the most economical option. Plus, it burns cleaner than oil or propane.
- Oil or propane: These are great heat sources, but you must have enough room to store the tank. Due to the fluctuating cost of oil, it can also be very expensive. Those who live in older homes and more rural areas may not have gas lines, so this may be your only alternative to electric heat.
- Electricity: The biggest drawback to electric furnaces is the cost. Because they must create heat from electricity, they can be expensive to operate.
- Heat pump: These pumps run on electricity, but they are more efficient and therefore, present a good option to natural gas. In cold weather, the pump draws heat from the air outside and moves it into the house as warm air. In summer, it pulls hot air out of the home and releases it outside. Because it is not generating the heat, as an electric furnace does, it’s much more economical.
Don’t Take Chances with Installation
Even if you’re pretty handy with tools and DIY improvements or repairs around the house, it’s best to seek professional help when installing a new furnace. Contact a reputable HVAC company such as Comfort Air, who will ensure all those energy-efficient upgrades you’re paying for are installed correctly. Another great reason to have it installed professionally is to maintain your warranty protection. Some manufacturers may not honor a warranty on a unit that you installed yourself.
Heating systems are complex, with lots of variables; that’s why it’s important to consult with a professional HVAC company before your purchase and for installation. Along with savings on your utility bill, a high-efficiency unit may earn you a rebate from your utility provider, so be sure to ask.