Do you know what to ask when it's time to replace or upgrade your gas
furnace? Most homeowners don't since it's something they may do only once or
twice in their lifetime.
If you're thinking about a new furnace, the Trane Home Comfort Institute says
there are many factors to consider, but here are five of the most important.
Size: The size of a gas furnace refers to its heating capacity, not its
physical dimensions. The capacity of a heating system is measured in Btu's
(British thermal units) per hour.
In general, a unit that's too small will lack the ability to give you the
comfort you want. A unit that's too large will cost more to buy and operate.
A qualified heating contractor is the best person to recommend the correct
size for your new furnace.
Venting: The heating contractor can also tell you if any changes are
needed in the venting of the furnace. In most cases, the new furnace is
placed in the same location as the old and uses the same venting system.
However, many of today's high efficiency gas furnaces can be vented out a
side wall in the same manner as gas clothes dryers.
Efficiency: The efficiency of a gas furnace is indicated by its Annual
Fuel Utilization Efficiency or AFUE rating. The Federal government requires
that all new furnaces have a minimum efficiency level of 78% AFUE. The
higher the AFUE, the more efficient the furnace. The more efficient the
furnace, the lower the heating bill.
Cost: In general, higher efficiency units will cost more than lower
efficiency units. However, the Trane Home Comfort Institute notes that over
the life of the unit, a high efficiency gas unit will help pay for itself
because of the annual savings in operating costs. These savings could easily
pay for the extra cost of moving up in efficiency.
Final cost can also be affected by a number of installation factors such
as the correction of venting or ductwork problems, and the difficulty of
removing the old furnace or installing the new furnace in the desired
Contractor: Perhaps the most important step in replacing or upgrading
your home's heating system is choosing the right contractor to do the job.
The reason: no matter how well-made a furnace is, the comfort, reliability
and energy efficiency it provides is in the hands of the contractor
Contractors affiliated with a nationally known manufacturer are usually a
good choice because they've been factory trained in installation and
service. They can also help you determine your comfort needs, make the right
equipment choices and give you the best value for your money.