Purchasing a new furnace may not be a priority right away. But it’s smart to know the things that will likely impact your choice when you’re ready to buy. Here are seven things you’ll want to consider when it’s time for furnace replacement in North America.
1. Size and Installation Quality
To operate at maximum efficiency and comfort, your furnace must be correctly sized for your home. When it comes to furnaces, bigger is certainly not better. We frequently get requests from customers to purchase a big furnace in the mistaken belief that a larger furnace is either more dependable or will offer better comfort.
The reverse is true. Oversized furnaces will short cycle, or continuously turn on and off. This leaves you uncomfortable, with higher energy bills and a furnace that could need replacing much sooner.
This is why it’s important to work with the right company when buying a new furnace. Even if it’s the right size but improperly installed, the U.S. Department of Energy says you could lose as much as 30% of your energy efficiency.
Another key component of installation is ductwork. If yours is old or improperly designed, you might have issues with sound or comfort. A furnace is only as good as the duct system it’s attached to.
At Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, our Expert HVAC technicians are ACE certified, which means they’re knowledgeable about repairing and installing various kinds of home comfort systems. Besides technical skill, our technicians are also trained in treating you ethically. We also support our work with a 100% satisfaction guarantee for a year.*
2. Energy Efficiency
Furnaces are rated by a term known as AFUE, or annual fuel utilization efficiency. Like miles per gallon on cars, this measures the annual gas consumption of a furnace. The greater the number, the less gas is wasted during the heating process.
If your current furnace is 15 years old, it’s likely ranked well below 80 AFUE. As an example, if your HVAC system is 70 AFUE, you’re throwing away up to 30 cents of each dollar you spend on heating.
Here’s how AFUE ratings work now:
- 80 AFUE—minimum efficiency rating in the U.S. and Canada.
- 90 AFUE—ENERGY STAR® rating for furnaces in the U.S. South.
- 95 AFUE—ENERGY STAR® rating for furnaces in the U.S. North and Canada.
- 98 AFUE—best efficiency rating available.
3. Blower Motor Technology
As you evaluate new furnaces there is one more important thing to consider: blower technology. This part circulates air throughout your home. And it also uses a lot of electricity, so it’s essential to be familiar with your options.
There are three kinds of blowers available on furnaces today. They include:
- Standard blower motor. Furnaces that aren’t ENERGY STAR rated have a standard blower motor that’s been mostly unchanged for the past 30 years. This motor is the least expensive and also the least energy efficient.
- Constant torque motor. This technology strikes a balance between cost and energy efficiency. It provides an electrical efficiency boost over a standard motor design.
- Variable-speed motor. The most energy-efficient furnaces can operate at different speeds. Instead of operating at full speed 24/7, they will quietly operate at a low or medium speed at times. This helps enhance your comfort while keeping energy costs low, both in the winter and summer. And it also keeps indoor humidity in check.
4. Sound Reduction Technology
Sound has become a very important consideration with furnace installation, so another dramatic improvement has been keeping noise under control. Some of these features include:
- Sealed and insulated cabinets
- Variable-speed blower technology
- Whisper-quiet gas burners
With this technology, you might not even be aware that your furnace is on.
5. Smart Thermostat
You probably have a programmable thermostat, but it's quite possible you probably aren’t maximizing your energy savings. These thermostats can be difficult to program, especially if your schedule varies from day to day.
A smart thermostat removes all the guessing about energy efficiency. Many models can pick up on your temperature preferences and then produce an energy-saving schedule to match. They also recognize when you’re home or away and will adjust your heating and cooling as needed.
As an extra perk, you’ll also be able to keep tabs on and adjust your settings from just about anywhere on your phone. Some models can even alert you if they find a problem with your furnace or remind you when it’s time to change your air filter.
There’s a major difference in furnace quality and reliability. Like any large purchase, we believe it’s wisest to go with a major brand name. With a leading brand like Lennox® or Goodman®, you’ll have more confidence in the technology and that the manufacturer will stand by its product warranty over the long haul.
Furnaces typically have two primary warranty coverage areas:
- Heat exchanger. This is the heart of the furnace and the most expensive component to replace. This part typically has a 20-year limited warranty or lifetime limited warranty, but this can differ based on the manufacturer and furnace model.
- Main components. This includes the blower motor, electronic controls, ignitors and other important parts. Warranties can range from as short as a one-year limited warranty to as long as a 10-year limited warranty.
When going over warranty coverage, it’s important to know it's limited. So, you should make sure you understand the limitations. For example, nearly all standard manufacturer warranties only include the cost of the replacement part, not labor. And labor on a new heat exchanger could get very expensive.
Once your new furnace is installed, make sure you finish the product registration right away. Many manufacturers may reduce the warranty term if the product registration is not completed. This step is simple and usually only takes a few minutes.
How much does all this cost anyway? It could vary from $1,700 for a basic furnace, or $5,500 or more for a high-efficiency model.
As you consider these costs and the affect on your budget, keep in mind that unlike nearly every other appliance you may need to purchase, your new furnace may help pay for itself from the monthly energy savings it provides.
A couple of other ways to save include:
- Replacing your air conditioner simultaneously.
- Purchasing at the right time, such as in early fall, mid-winter and early spring. You may be able to get extra discounts and rebates during this less busy season.
- Reap the benefits of rebates from the federal and state government, as well as from your local utility provider. We can help you navigate this process.
- Finance your new furnace or sign up for our exclusive HVAC Advantage Program™. For just one low monthly fee, you’ll receive a new furnace with repairs and maintenance included.*
How Do I Know When to Replace My Furnace?
Now that you know what to search for in a new furnace, when should you replace your outdated one? Here are a few ideas from our Experts that will help you make that decision.
Heating systems usually last 15–20 years. How long yours will keep going depends on whether you’ve kept up with furnace maintenance, where you live and your desired temperature. If you’re somewhere with harsh winters, your furnace will operate more frequently, potentially making it wear out sooner. The same applies if you like to keep your home at a hotter temperature.
Repair Frequency and Cost
Just like any appliance, as furnaces get older, the likelihood for frequent furnace repair increases. If your system is more than 15 years old, those repairs can be particularly expensive. Common and costly repairs on an older furnace include:
- Blower motor failures
- Ignition control failures
- Heat exchanger failures
If repairs are greater than the half the cost of a new furnace, it’s generally best to replace it.
Furnaces older than 15 years can be very inefficient. You could be throwing away as much as 30% of the money you spend to keep your home warm. Excessive energy costs and the desire to reduce energy consumption are also strong reasons to consider replacing your furnace. In fact, an independent study by Decision Analyst shows nearly 20% of homeowners who recently replaced their furnace specifically did so to lower their utility bills.
Trust Your Furnace Replacement to the Experts
It can seem intimidating trying to investigate furnace features on your own. Or recognize exactly when you should get a new furnace. Our Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning Experts are here to make the process much easier. Contact us at 866-397-3787 or schedule an appointment online to request your free home comfort assessment today.
*For HVAC Service Memberships, certain warranty exclusions and limitations apply. See your signed agreement for full terms and conditions. For the Advantage Program™, please see your signed Advantage Program Agreement for full details and exclusions. Lease with approved credit; visit ServiceExperts.com for details.