It’s that time of year when family and friends gather together under the same roof. But any Christmas cheer you might experience could quickly hit a bump in the road if your furnace stops working.
As we’ve said in previous posts, the best time to shop for a replacement furnace is before your old one breathes its last breath. That way, you’ll have plenty of time to make an informed decision. Your new furnace is an investment for the future, so it’s a big decision to make—but it’s also one you need to make quickly during this chilly season.
To ensure you make the right choice on your next furnace, you should know at least four things beforehand.
1. The Age of Your Current Furnace
Modern models are made to last far longer than older types. If your model is fairly recent, you might simply need a repair and not a replacement. To find the age of your current furnace, try the following steps:
- If available, use the original owner’s manual to check the year on your furnace.
- Consider calling the furnace manufacturer, usually listed somewhere on the unit.
- Search your unit for a label listing the model number, which will help you determine its age.
- Talk to your local HVAC provider to discover the age of your current unit.
If your current furnace is more than 10 to 15 years old, it likely has antiquated technology that costs you energy bills each month, so consider replacing it instead of repairing it. The average lifespan of a well-maintained modern furnace ranges from 20 to 30 years.
2. The Difference Between Standard- and High-Efficiency Units
Within the past ten years, the Department of Energy has updated efficiency requirements for heating and cooling appliances.
The difference between standard- and high-efficiency units depends on the amount of energy each unit converts into actual heat. For instance, standard units convert approximately 80% of fuel energy into heat for your home.
High-efficiency (HE) units, on the other hand, may convert up to 97% of fuel energy into heat. Many HE units convert 90-97% of fuel energy into heat, depending on the model. Thus, high-efficiency units use less fuel to create the same amount of heat.
The benefits of a high-efficiency unit come in several forms:
- HE units use less fuel for the same result.
- HE units are more environmentally friendly.
- HE units reduce monthly utility costs.
- HE units often make less noise.
The initial price of one of these units is much higher than standard-efficiency models, but certain tax credits, rebates, and local incentives may help to lower the expense. However, there are other factors that contribute to your energy costs, including the two listed below.
3. The Cost of Fuel in Your Area
Just like any other commodity, the cost of fuel varies over time and between areas. To get an idea of average costs for your home, take a look at the past year’s average monthly cost. Call or contact your utility provider online to access past records and bills.
The type of fuel you use makes a difference, too. Below are the four common types of furnace fuel:
Although some fuel types excel in certain climates, others work equally as well depending on your home’s size, the weather, and the type of unit you have.
4. Your Home’s Heating Load
Homes vary in square footage as well as in design. The amount of energy required to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home is called your heating load, and it often affects energy costs more than your fuel or even furnace type.
While an energy-efficient heating unit helps, ensuring that your home remains energy efficient remains important, too. To ensure that both your new furnace and home work together for optimal energy savings, consult with your local HVAC provider.