A Homeowner’s Guide to Furnace Buying
As a homeowner, there are many decisions that you’re going to need to make regarding your home and how it operates. One of these decisions is choosing a furnace that meets both your needs and desires. If you’re not overly familiar with this type of heating system, continue reading our guide below to get acquainted with this product to ensure that you purchase the appropriate one for your home.
Determine Your Heating Capacity Needs
When it comes to buying a new furnace for your home, there is surely no shortage of options. In fact, it can be quite overwhelming at first to determine just where to start your buying journey. We believe that it starts with determining the heating capacity that you’ll need.
All furnaces have a specific heating capacity that is listed in the measurement of BTUs. This stands for British thermal units and simply characterizes how powerful a particular furnace is. The higher the BTU, the more heating capacity it offers for your home.
Since Roseville, MI is in the northern part of the country, HVAC experts recommend that you have a heating system that produces about 60 BTUs for every square foot of your home. So, to determine your heating needs, you’ll take the total square footage of your home and multiply it by 60. This will tell you the minimum BTU capacity that your new furnace will need to heat your home correctly. Let’s say that your home is 1,000 square feet. You’ll take 1,000 and multiply that by 60 to get a heating capacity of 60,000 BTUs.
It’s easy to think that getting a furnace that has more heating capacity than you need is fine. The reality is that oversized heating systems will short-cycle and run up your power bill while reducing your comfort level. It’s best to opt for a furnace that has a heating capacity at or just above what your needs are so that you can ensure it will work properly to keep you and your family comfortable during the winter season.
Choose Your Fuel Type
There is no singular fuel that all furnaces run on. Rather, there are four different types of furnaces that you can purchase based on the fuel that they utilize. These include oil, natural gas, propane, and electric furnaces. Knowing the pros and cons of each can have a big impact on your decision of which furnace to purchase.
The most popular type of furnace uses natural gas. This fuel can be cheaper than all the other fuel types. However, only those who live in an area where natural gas is available via underground gas lines can enjoy this type of furnace.
Those who don’t have access to natural gas will typically opt for a furnace that burns heating oil. While heating oil is more expensive than natural gas, it creates more heat per unit burned. It’s crucial to note that if you opt for heating oil, you’re going to need to have an on-site fuel tank to store it.
Propane is another option that many people opt for when both natural gas and heating oil are unavailable. Propane can be more expensive to run than both heating oil and natural gas. However, it does produce more heat per unit burned than either of the other two options. If you opt for propane, you’ll need to keep a storage tank for your fuel.
Lastly, you can opt for a furnace that operates solely on electricity. This type of furnace has the cheapest upfront cost out of the four and is easy to maintain. However, the operating cost of electricity can be extravagantly more expensive than the previous fuel types discussed.
Factor in the Supporting Structures
For a furnace to run, it will need to have some supporting structures within your home. These include ducting, chimneys, and vents. Ducting is the large metal piping that runs throughout the walls and under the floors in your home. It’s directly responsible for transferring the hot air that your furnace makes to the rest of your home.
If you’re going to be running natural gas, propane, or heating oil, you’re going to need a chimney to dispel the harmful gases that the burning process makes. Vents are also necessary as they’re responsible for directing flue gases outside. Each type of fuel uses its own unique vent.
If you’re purchasing a furnace for your new home, all of these supporting structures need to be factored into the overall cost. If you’re just updating your existing furnace, it’s highly likely that you have all of these supporting structures in place. It’s going to be easiest to stick with the same type of fuel-burning furnace that you already have.
Always Consider Efficiency
Just like other household appliances, furnaces are given a rating based on how efficiently they operate. This is called their annual fuel utilization efficiency, or AFUE for short. The higher the rating, the more efficient your unit is going to be. The absolute minimum efficiency standard set by the HVAC industry is 78.
If you’re looking for a good combination of affordable upfront pricing and operating efficiency, you’ll likely want to consider units with a rating of 80 to 85. These are referred to as mid-efficient furnaces, and they’re the most popular on the market today. If you’re okay with spending more upfront for a higher efficiency unit, you can save yourself a bunch on operating costs. These high-efficiency furnaces have a rating between 90% and 97%.
Understand the Burner Options Available to You
The burners inside of furnaces are designed to operate in one of three ways. These include single-stage, multi-stage, and modulating. The most common type of burner out there is the single-stage. This furnace has one burner that operates on one of two modes, which are on and off. It will always operate at its rated capacity, regardless of indoor or outdoor conditions.
Next, we have the multi-stage furnace. This is also referred to, sometimes, as a two-stage burner furnace. This newer furnace model hit the market with the intent of making traditional single-stage furnaces more efficient. Two-stage systems have two burners that can operate on three different modes, which are off, low-fire, and high-fire. When the furnace is operating on low-fire, it only operates at about 40% to 60% of its rated capacity. This is an ideal setting for when mild weather hits.
The last option you have is the modulating furnace. This type of system was invented to help make the multi-stage furnace operate even more efficiently. Instead of operating at a set heating capacity, modulating furnaces will monitor conditions and adjust their operating capacity accordingly. Due to their efficient operation, modulating furnaces can easily eliminate large temperature swings that the single and multi-stage models can’t. While modulating furnaces have this great benefit over the other models, they are much more expensive to purchase.
Outstanding Furnace Services
C & C Heating & Air Conditioning provides outstanding furnace services for the Roseville, MI area. We also offer quality duct cleaning, indoor air quality, cooling, humidifier, water heater, and air filtration services. Call our office today to get the help that you need.