Cooler temperatures aren’t here yet, but if you need to upgrade your furnace, it’s worth researching ahead of time. Fortunately, today’s market is flooded with options. To choose the right one for your home and needs, you need to know what you’re looking at. Whether you’re just researching or looking to make a purchase, we can help you learn about the different types of furnaces, installation processes and heating experiences through our guide below.
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Four types of ovens
There are currently four different types of ovens on the market:
- Natural gas
Each type of furnace heats the air slightly differently and has different operating costs.
Electric furnaces are often the cheapest of the four to purchase and are easier to install and maintain. However, since they run solely on electricity, they can be quite expensive to operate.
Think of an electric oven as a hair dryer or a toaster. The furnace sucks cold air into the heat exchanger, where it is subsequently heated by electric heating elements. Once heated, the warm air is pushed into your home through ducts.
Although an electric furnace costs more to run, the advantage is that it produces no carbon monoxide, which is safer for the environment and your family’s health.
Natural gas boilers
If you live near a natural gas line, running a natural gas furnace can be more affordable than running an electric furnace—especially if you already have a natural gas line running to your home.
A natural gas furnace works by igniting natural gas inside the burner of your furnace. The flames heat up the metal heat exchanger, which in turn heats the incoming cold air received from your home’s ductwork. The warm air is then forced into your home by a fan through its ductwork.
Natural gas boilers require a flue to carry the fumes out of your home. The flue will need to be inspected at least once a year to prevent poisonous gases from entering your home.
A gas furnace is more expensive to purchase than an electric furnace, but because it uses natural gas as opposed to electricity, it is cheaper to operate. It is also more efficient than an electric furnace because it is able to heat the air in the heat exchange chamber faster.
Oil furnaces work very similarly to natural gas furnaces. After activation, the furnace draws oil from the tank into the combustion chamber. However, instead of igniting directly, it first turns into a mist and then sprays onto the burner. After ignition, the air is drawn into a chamber near the burner, where it is heated and sent through a pipe back into the house.
Oil burns at a higher temperature than natural gas, which means it heats up homes faster. However, keep in mind that oil furnaces require an oil tank, which is often buried near homes.
Propane furnaces also work in much the same way as natural gas furnaces, except they don’t require a flue. Instead, it is possible to simply install a direct vent next to it on the outer wall. This eliminates the need for regular inspection and cleaning of the flue.
However, even though it is similar to natural gas, propane furnaces are more efficient. As a result, you don’t have to burn as much propane to get the same amount of heat as you would with a natural gas boiler.
Single Stage Furnaces to Modulated Heat Furnaces: Which is Best?
In addition to choosing between different fuel sources, you also need to consider how many degrees you want your furnace to have. There are currently three options on the market.
- Single stage heat: Many older furnaces use what is called a single-stage heat process. With this type of furnace, the flame is only one size and is either on or off. In relation to the thermostat, it is not very precise, that is, it usually varies within a few degrees. Since it only has one flame setting, it will cycle on and off repeatedly throughout the day as temperatures fluctuate.
- Multi-stage heat: This type has two sizes of flames it can use. Smaller for mild weather and larger for colder weather. Because it has two flame options, it is more accurate than a single-stage thermal furnace.
- Modulating heat: It is the most accurate furnace on the market because it is able to control the size of the flame to match the temperature set on the thermostat. It is a constant source of heating that keeps the temperature of your home exactly where you want it to be.
A single stageis more affordable, while the modulating furnace is the most expensive. Consider your budget and needs when choosing. Smaller, single-story houses do not require as much heating power as larger, multi-story houses. If your home is somewhere in the middle, a multi-stage thermal furnace may be the ideal choice for you.
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What is an AFUE rating?
AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. The AFUE rating reflects how much heat is produced for every dollar spent. The higher the AFUE rating a furnace has, the less a homeowner should spend on fuel.
Ideally, you want a furnace with an AFUE rating in the 90s, as these are the most fuel efficient furnaces. However, be aware that furnaces with this high AFUE rating are usually some of the most expensive.
How much does a new furnace cost?
A new mid-range furnace costs $1,500 to $6,000 (for example, a Rheem furnace that has an 80% AFUE rating costs $1,488 plus installation). Go for a top-of-the-line model with a higher AFUE rating and the price can jump up to $10,000.
Then there’s the installation cost to consider, which should be around $2,000 without any discounts.
As this is such a large investment, consider fuel costs and running costs before making your decision. This is especially important if you plan to finance the purchase and have monthly payments (but you can always offset your energy costs with some new solar panels).
Support Structures and Hidden Costs: Chimneys, ductwork, vents, and whole-house humidifiers
Your furnace needs ductwork to transfer heat into your home. If you live in a newer home, your home plumbing is probably already well taken care of. However, you will still want to have a licensed HVAC technician come to your home and test your home’s duct system. It may or may not be able to handle a furnace with more blowing power.
If you have problems with an older furnace, it is possiblemay be at fault. The technician will be able to tell you if the pipes were installed correctly or if there are leaks or blockages. If there is any damage to your pipes, it is unlikely that you will need to replace the entire system. Instead, you may be able to get by with replacing the damaged parts.
Chimneys aren’t just for fireplaces. They can also vent gases from a hot water heater or furnace. If you get a high-efficiency furnace, you may not need a chimney at all. However, if not, you’ll want to have your chimney inspected before installing a new furnace. After that, you will need to clean it once a year.
We’re not talking about air registers in each of your rooms that you can open or close. Instead, we mean vents that direct flue gases out of your home. If you change the type of furnace you are using, you may need to replace the vents. Propane, oil, and natural gas burn a little differently, so the material used in your outdoor vents may not be strong enough to handle the new temperatures.
Furnaces dry out the air in the house, which is not good during cold and flu season. Sinus infections can be the result of breathing too dry air. To prevent this, many homeowners choose to install humidifiers in the furnace. The cost of a furnace humidifier varies a lot depending on the brand and model you choose. You can spend anywhere from $200 to $1,600. Introducing ain each room is also a valid option.
Which one is right for you?
The best thing you can do for yourself is to have a licensed HVAC technician come to your home. Once there, they can address your concerns about your old heating system as well as give you their expert opinion on the best type of furnace for your home. You can also talk to them about yours while you’re there, also. Window units are often the best choice, but sometimes there is room for an upgrade.