7 Things to Be Aware of Before Purchasing a Furnace in the U.S.
Buying a new furnace may not be a priority right away. But it’s wise to learn the things that will likely influence your selection when you’re ready to buy. Here are seven things you’ll want to consider when you’re due for furnace replacement in the U.S..
1. Size and Installation Quality
To operate at peak efficiency and comfort, your furnace must be properly sized for your home. When it involves furnaces, bigger is certainly not better. We often get requests from customers to install a big furnace in the mistaken belief that a larger furnace is either more reliable or will provide better comfort.
The reverse is true. Oversized furnaces will short cycle, or constantly turn on and off. This leaves you cold, with more expensive energy bills and a furnace that could wear out 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 installed wrong, 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 designed wrong, you might have problems with noise or comfort. A furnace is only as good as the duct system it’s attached to.
At Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, our Expert HVAC technicians are ACE certified, which means they’re skilled in repairing and installing various types of home comfort systems. Besides technical skill, our technicians are also trained in treating you ethically. We also stand behind 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 higher the number, the less gas is wasted during the heating process.
If your current furnace is 15 years old, it’s likely rated well below 80 AFUE. As an example, if your HVAC system is 70 AFUE, you’re wasting up to 30 cents of each dollar you spend on heating.
Here’s how AFUE ratings work today:
- 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 consideration: blower technology. This part circulates air throughout your home. And it also consumes a lot of electricity, so it’s important to know about your options.
There are three types 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 the same for the past 30 years. This motor is the least expensive and also the least energy efficient.
- Constant torque motor. This technology finds a balance between cost and energy efficiency. It provides an electrical efficiency boost over a traditional motor design.
- Variable-speed motor. The most energy-efficient furnaces can run at different speeds. Instead of running at full speed 24/7, they will quietly run at a low or medium speed at times. This helps improve your comfort while keeping energy costs low, both in the winter and summer. And it also keeps indoor humidity under control.
4. Sound Reduction Technology
Sound has become a very important consideration with furnace installation, so another great improvement has been noise management. Some of these features include:
- Sealed and insulated cabinets
- Variable-speed blower technology
- Nearly silent gas burners
With this technology, you might not even be aware that your furnace is running.
5. Smart Thermostat
You probably use a programmable thermostat, but chances are you probably aren’t maximizing your energy savings. These thermostats can be challenging to program, especially if your schedule changes from day to day.
A smart thermostat eliminates all the guesswork about energy efficiency. Many models can pick up on your temperature preferences and then create an energy-saving schedule to match. They also know when you’re home or away and will adjust your heating and cooling as necessary.
As a bonus, you’ll also be able to monitor and adjust your settings from just about anywhere on your phone. Some models can even alert you if they detect a problem with your furnace or remind you when it’s time to change your air filter.
There’s a significant 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 term.
Furnaces typically have two main 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 vary based on the manufacturer and furnace model.
- Main components. This involves the blower motor, electronic controls, ignitors and other key parts. Warranties can range from as short as a one-year limited warranty to as long as a 10-year limited warranty.
When reviewing 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 cover the cost of the replacement part, not labor. And labor on a new heat exchanger could get costly.
Once your new furnace is installed, make sure you complete the product registration right away. Many manufacturers may limit the warranty term if the product registration is not completed. This step is simple and typically only takes a few minutes.
How much does all this cost anyway? It could range from $1,700 for a basic furnace, or $5,500 or more for a high-efficiency model.
As you consider these costs and the impact to 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 additional ways to save include:
- Getting a new air conditioner at the same time.
- Buying at the right time, such as in early fall, mid-winter and early spring. You may be able to get additional discounts and rebates during this less busy season.
- Take advantage of rebates from the federal and state government, as well as from your local utility provider. We can help you figure out this process.
- Finance your new furnace or enroll in our exclusive HVAC Advantage Program™. For just one low monthly fee, you’ll get a new furnace with repairs and maintenance included.*
How Do I Know When to Replace My Furnace?
Now that you know what to look for in a new furnace, when should you replace your outdated one? Here are a few ideas from our Experts that will help you decide.
Heating systems typically last 15–20 years. How long yours will last depends on whether you’ve done furnace maintenance, where you live and your desired temperature. If you’re somewhere with harsh winters, your furnace will run more often, potentially making it wear out sooner. The same applies if you like to keep your home at a warmer temperature.
Repair Frequency and Cost
Just like any appliance, as furnaces age, the likelihood for frequent furnace repair increases. If your system is more than 15 years old, those repairs can be especially 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 wasting 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 overwhelming trying to research furnace features on your own. Or know exactly when you should get a new furnace. Our Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing Experts are here to make the process much easier. Call us at 866-397-3787 or schedule an appointment online to book 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.
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