Shopping for a new furnace isn’t something that the average Joe and Jane are accustomed to or experienced in. And given the myriad of heating systems available today, it can be intimidating to shop for the best furnace.
To help you with the comparison shopping process, here is a checklist that can filter out the options.
Know the Different Types of Furnace
Furnace types are categorized mainly by operation and fuel source. By operation, you have single-stage, two-stage, and variable speed furnaces. Here’s a brief description of the three:
- Single-stage – As the name implies, a single-stage furnace goes through only a single stage of operation, which means it can either be switched on or off at any given time. Single-stage furnaces also only run at one consistent speed. This can result in temperature fluctuations throughout the house.
- Two-stage – With a two-stage furnace, you get two variations in terms of speed of operation. You can run the heating system at either full or half speed, depending on how fast you wish to heat the space. Two-stage furnaces also run more efficiently and can maintain a consistent indoor climate.
- Variable speed – A variable speed furnace has multiple speed settings you can switch between to get the desired indoor climate. Since variable-speed furnaces operate more efficiently, it costs less to run them during the cold winter months.
And then you have furnaces separated by fuel source, mainly gas, oil, and electric. A new furnace Ottawa installation that runs on gas tends to be the most well-rounded option amongst the three. It has a high level of efficiency, runs affordably with natural gas, and involves low installation and maintenance efforts. Natural gas furnaces are rated to be up to 98 percent efficiency, which is eight percent less than the max efficiency rating of oil furnaces. Electric models are not as economical as gas and are not efficient at heating large homes. Oil is only recommended if you cannot use any other option.
Figure Out the Right Size
Furnace size can impact installation cost, maintenance, heating capacity, and overall cost of the unit. When calculating how big or small your furnace should be, consult with a professional HVAC contractor. They’ll be able to give you a more accurate furnace size estimate based on your home design, ceiling height, and the number of windows available.
Figure Out Availability Based on Region
Where you live can also affect your furnace options since location determines the climate and fuel source/s available. For instance, if you are looking to install a geothermal heat pump, a contractor will have to assess the ground that your home is built on or a nearby water source where pipes will run. Depending on where you live, a gas furnace may be the most efficient option.
If you live in the Southern United States, you will want a furnace that has a “U.S. South” Energy Star stamp on it. These are designed to be more fuel-efficient for a milder climate. You may also want to explore heat pump options as it will save on energy costs. However, if you live in a colder climate that reaches below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the efficiency standards for your furnace will be stricter. Look for an energy star furnace with an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating of 90 or higher.
Know What Features to Look For
Different brands and types of furnaces come with an array of key features. As a general rule of thumb, the more features a furnace has, the more expensive they are. Higher efficiency furnaces, however, usually yield lower utility costs over time so you get your money back. Top-rated furnaces come with features, including variable-speed blowers, variable heat output, air filtration, a dual heat exchanger, and zoned heating.
Inquire About Warranty
While most consumers pass on warranty coverage at checkout, it’s a no-brainer investment for an appliance that you intend to use for years to come. Basic furnaces will often come with a shorter warranty than premium units. In either case, consider buying extended warranty coverage to protect your furnace.
Consider the Cost
The cost of a new furnace will vary based on all of the factors mentioned: energy source, features, size, and installation fees. On average homeowners spend about $3800 on a new furnace, but costs can range anywhere from $1800 to $6300. When choosing your new furnace, pick what will be economically efficient and is high quality to protect you from expensive repairs in the long run.
Choosing the best furnace takes some time and due diligence. Use resources available both online and offline including unbiased consumer reviews and testimonials. Furthermore, discuss it with your local HVAC contractor and request a free non-obligatory quote.