Think of your furnace as the heart of your home. In the winter, it radiates cozy warmth. During the summer, it plays a role in circulating refreshing, conditioned air from your cooling system. All year long, your furnace can provide consistent air circulation to keep you and your family more comfortable. But, when it’s time for a replacement, where do you start?
Determine the necessary size
Installing a furnace of the right size is key to having the proper amount of heat and for not overspending.
To determine the proper size, you need to match heat output, measured in British thermal units (Btus), with the size of your home. Keep in mind that your house size is NOT just square footage. You should also consider factors like insulation, number of windows, and ceiling height.
The easiest way to determine the size of the new heating furnace is to look at your existing furnace. If you are satisfied with the heat, go with the same size. It’s always best to ask an HVAC contractor to come in and do an in-house evaluation. A pro can tell you exactly how big of a furnace you need.
Think about air efficiency
One of the most important metrics to look at is the furnace’s AFUE or annual fuel utilization efficiency. A high AFUE number indicates high energy efficiency. This means that you will be able to lower your monthly heating bills. The only caveat is that you need to make sure that your air duct system is intact and your house is well insulated. Otherwise, you will be wasting heat and spending a lot of money. Without proper insulation in your walls, windows and doors, even the most energy efficient furnace will not save you much money.
For optimal energy efficiency, talk to your HVAC pro about installing a programmable thermostat. It saves energy and money by reducing the amount of work your furnace has to perform.
If your want your furnace to work well for many years, here are the key features it should have. These are worth spending extra money on.
Two stage valves: they control the flow of fuel. When it is first turned on, the furnace will run high, and then on a lower flow to maintain the desired temperature.
Sealed combustion: helps protect your house from dangerous carbon monoxide and is also more energy efficient.
Long warranty: if you purchase a more efficient and expensive model, you will have the security of a longer, more comprehensive warranty than one on a budget furnace. Be sure to check both the manufacturer and the HVAC installer warranties, as these may vary and have different terms. Also, it is best to have a long warranty on the heat exchangers.
Don’t wait until your home furnace breaks in the dead of winter and you’re scrambling to find and install a new furnace fast. If you have a very old furnace, do your research ahead of time and schedule a replacement. This way, you will be able to find the best deal on a good quality furnace. Moreover, you will also have time to get quotes from different local HVAC contractors, and get the best price.
Installation prices can vary dramatically depending on the contractor, so its best not to rush in to the first offer or faced with an emergency. If you live in the Virginia Beach area, try to schedule your evaluation during early fall or late summer so you’re ready (and comfortable) come winter.