Furnance Buying What Every Homeowner Should Know

As you begin the search for what furnaces on the market, you are going to run into a few manufacturers as well as jargon and decision-making questions that can easily leave anyone scratching their heads. Because of that, we are here to help you navigate these rough, unsteady waters.

What are some of the manufacturers of furnaces and what should I know about them and their products?

Lennox

  • gas furnaces
  • oil furnaces

Trane

  • gas furnaces
  • oil furnaces

Carrier

  • also, makes Day and Night
  • as well as Bryant
  • They offer home systems; split systems, hybrid heat split systems (a smart version of a normal split system), ductless split systems, packaged systems, and geothermal heat pump system. Carrier does not offer just a furnace system

What is a split system?

This is what we commonly think of when we think about central air conditioning or heat. It has a condensing unit, furnace, and coil. These systems often require space to house them. If you don’t have space in your home available, you might want to look into different options like an outdoor unit.

What do the best furnaces have?

If you live in a part of the country that has hard winters most often you will want a furnace with 90% AFUE or more. If you live in a part of the country where winters are less often harsh check and see if you can choose a furnace with 80% AFUE.

You want a long warranty with a reliable company.

Make sure to choose a company with a great repair history. Repair history is pretty consistent between companies. American Standard has the highest rating in repairs, followed by Trane and then Carrier.

Gas and oil

You can have an electric furnace but they are not as energy efficient, so we do not recommend them. Gas furnaces are most often a more popular choice of the two. Natural gas is not allowed in some parts of the U.S.A. Gas furnaces with a 90% AFUE are called condensing furnaces. Costs are around $1,000 more than an 80% AFUE rating. One hidden fee of the condensing furnace is the cost of installation and changes in ductwork. There are 20 or so states that do not require the 90% AFUE you can choose the 80% AFUE furnace.

What to avoid when you are shopping for furnaces?

  • Do not avoid the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating. The higher the SEER rating the most efficient the device. This helps you spend less in bills.

SEER ratings are:

  • 16 high efficiency
  • 15 good
  • 13 minimum

Saving Money

Some states and a few manufacturers offer rebates to help with the cost of upgrading systems to a higher efficiency model. Visit www.dsireusa.org to learn if you can get a rebate. Make sure to get several estimates. Not only will prices vary, options a company can offer you, as well as installation costs can be different from company to company. Remember, cheaper is not always better. We all want to get the best deal, but like all technology you get what you pay for. Sometimes what will hurt your pocket book now will be a blessing later.

Plan to have your system maintained, you will see the difference in your energy bills. You can also handle a small problem before it gets so much more of an issue. Do not work with a contractor if the contractor hasn’t looked closely at your home and has not taken a Manual J load calculation.

What about that large yellow sticker on the side?

Efficiency is all about efficiency. This is where you will find the AFUE rating of the furnace. The yellow sticker is the EnergyGuide label and is required to be on devices by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission).

What are the hot and cold spots in your home?

Look into a zoning system to help with areas of your home that are hotter or colder than the rest. The system divides your home, and these areas have a thermostat and help even out temperatures.

Size matters.

A contractor can perform a Manual J load calculation to determine the size furnace your home will need. This is measured in BTUs or tons calculating your square footage to things like window efficiency.

With all that where do you go now?

When shopping for furnaces you want to take your time. Here are the questions you want to ask yourself and your contractor.

About your home:

  • What kind of winter do you encounter in your province?
  • Does your current system leave your home with hot or cold spots?
  • Are there rooms in your home that seem to be colder in the winter and hotter in the summer?
  • Is there are room in your home that you spend the majority of your time in every day?
  • Does your province offer rebates for upgrading or installing more energy efficient units?
  • Make a list of several companies to get estimates from.
  • Make sure to note your homes Manual J load calculation.
  • What kind of fuel source do you have to use by your state?
  • What kind of space does your home offer for a unit or will you have to have an outdoor unit?

Companies and devices:

Make multiple estimates. Do not take phone estimates from a contractor that does not come to your home and do a Manual J load calculation.

For more information about the right heating system for your home, talk to the Calgary furnace experts at Canada Furnace.