Your Guide to Buying a New Furnace

January 3, 2022
Furnace Purchasing Tips in Oak Harbor, WA

Buying a furnace is often looked at as a chore rather than something you look forward to, like buying a car or a new home. Regardless, it’s an important decision because it has lasting impacts on your home and your wallet. Use this as a guide to evaluate the options so that you know what you’re looking at when you meet with a furnace installer to discuss a quote.

Fuel-Burning or Electric

One of the first choices you’ll need to make is whether to install a fuel-burning or electric furnace. The electric option uses an electric resistance element to generate heat. While this option may be okay for moderate climates, it is the least efficient of furnace options.

More commonly found around Deptford are fuel-burning furnaces. Natural gas is the most common fuel type as it’s already routed to most homes through underground lines. In older homes or more rural areas, you may have oil or propane tanks outside your home.

Before selecting your unit, you’ll want to know what is already set up for your house. If you are plumbed for natural gas, you likely want to stay with that rather than changing to a different fuel.

Single-Stage, Multi-Stage, or Modulating

Basic furnace models, as well as older ones, use single-stage heating. This is the basic on and off function with a single size of the flame.

Two-stage or multi-stage furnaces have two different sizes of flame inside one unit. This allows for the unit to produce less heat when it’s warmer outside, and more heat while it’s colder. This makes it more efficient than the single-stage option.

The final option, a modulating heat furnace, is the most efficient. This allows the flame to adjust based on the heating needs, keeping your house’s temperature within a very tight 0.2 of a degree of your temperature setting.

Sizing Your System

It’s important to get the right size unit for your home. Unit sizing is measured in BTUs or tonnes. Determining the right size is based on several factors, starting with the size of the space you’re heating. Beyond that, there are several factors a professional installer will consider, including:

  • External environment
  • Home occupants
  • Height of ceilings
  • Number of windows
  • Your home’s seal quality

Efficiency Differences

You’ll also want to consider the efficiency you want from your unit. High-efficiency models will have a modulating heat system and an ECM fan, which varies the speed of the fan based on your home’s changing heating needs.

Standard single-stage gas furnaces with an on/off motor may have an AFUE rating as low as 80%. A high-efficiency unit with modulating heat, an ECM, and a second heat exchanger may have an AFUE rating as high as 95%. The difference in the fuel consumed while heating your home is noticeable on your utility bills.

Getting More Comfortable

Once you determine the kind and size of unit you need, you’ll want to consider features that’ll make your home more comfortable. This may include the amount of noise the unit makes. Generally, the better-quality units are quieter than the less expensive models.

Another comfort feature you may want to consider is humidity control. This is especially helpful over the drier winter months to maintain an ideal humidity level.

System Compatibility

If you’re replacing your existing system, you want to check for compatibility with the components already installed. We’ve already discussed checking your fuel source compatibility. Check to make sure your ductwork is also compatible, both in terms of size and air volume capacity. While you’re working on your ductwork, check to make sure it’s still in good condition without leaks that’ll eat into your efficiency.

Next, make sure it’s compatible with the flue. If it’s incompatible or your existing flue requires repair, it could drive up your installation costs.

The unit’s venting options may change as well. Oil and wood burn hotter than natural gas, requiring special metal venting to prevent heat damage. Gas furnace exhaust varies depending on the kind of model. For instance, some high-efficiency models have two heat exchangers, so the exhaust is barely warm coming from the vent. Your installer will help you identify what needs changing based on the unit you select.

Deptford’s residents have trusted JAMCO Heating & Air Conditioning to keep their families comfortable since 1986. Our team specializes in heating and cooling system installation, maintenance, and repair. Call to schedule your consultation with one of our expert furnace installers today.

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