Buying a new furnace may not be a priority in the immediate future. But it’s smart to learn the things that will likely influence your selection when you’re ready to buy. Here are seven things you’ll want to consider when it’s time for furnace replacement in Columbia.
1. Size and Installation Quality
To operate at maximum efficiency and comfort, your furnace must be correctly sized for your home. When it comes to furnaces, bigger is definitely not better. We often get requests from customers to install a big furnace in the mistaken belief that a larger furnace is either more reliable or will offer better comfort.
The reverse is true. Large furnaces will short cycle, or continuously turn on and off. This leaves you uncomfortable, with higher energy bills and a furnace that could need replacing much sooner.
This is why it’s important to work with the right company when buying a new furnace. Even if it’s the correct size but improperly installed, the U.S. Department of Energy says you could forfeit as much as 30% of your energy efficiency.
Another key component of installation is ductwork. If yours is old or designed wrong, you might have problems with noise or comfort. A furnace is only as good as the duct system it’s attached to.
At Midland Air Service Experts, our Expert HVAC technicians are ACE certified, which means they’re knowledgeable about repairing and installing various types of home comfort systems. Besides technical skill, our technicians are also trained in treating you fairly. We also stand behind our work with a 100% satisfaction guarantee for a year.*
2. Energy Efficiency
Furnaces are ranked by a term called AFUE, or annual fuel utilization efficiency. Like miles per gallon on cars, this rates the annual gas consumption of a furnace. The higher the number, the less gas is spent during the heating process.
If your current furnace is 15 years old, it’s likely rated well below 80 AFUE. As an example, if your HVAC system is 70 AFUE, you’re wasting up to 30 cents of each dollar you spend on heating.
Here’s how AFUE ratings work today:
- 80 AFUE—minimum efficiency rating in the U.S. and Canada.
- 90 AFUE—ENERGY STAR® rating for furnaces in the U.S. South.
- 95 AFUE—ENERGY STAR® rating for furnaces in the U.S. North and Canada.
- 98 AFUE—highest efficiency rating available.
3. Blower Motor Technology
As you evaluate new furnaces there is one more important thing to consider: blower technology. This part circulates air throughout your home. And it also uses a lot of electricity, so it’s essential to be familiar with your options.
There are three kinds of blowers available on furnaces today. They include:
- Standard blower motor. Furnaces that aren’t ENERGY STAR rated have a standard blower motor that’s been relatively unchanged for the past 30 years. This motor is the least expensive and also the least energy efficient.
- Constant torque motor. This technology finds a balance between cost and energy efficiency. It provides an electrical efficiency boost over a standard motor design.
- Variable-speed motor. The most energy-efficient furnaces can operate at different speeds. Instead of running at full speed 24/7, they will quietly run at a low or medium speed at times. This helps enhance your comfort while keeping energy costs down, both in the winter and summer. And it also keeps indoor humidity in check.
4. Sound Reduction Technology
Sound has become a very significant consideration with furnace installation, so another dramatic improvement has been keeping noise under control. Some of these features include:
- Sealed and insulated cabinets
- Variable-speed blower technology
- Whisper-quiet gas burners
With this technology, you might not even be aware that your furnace is on.
5. Smart Thermostat
You probably use a programmable thermostat, but it's quite possible you probably aren’t making the most of your energy savings. These thermostats can be complicated to program, especially if your schedule changes from day to day.
A smart thermostat removes all the guessing about energy efficiency. Many models can learn from your temperature preferences and then produce an energy-saving schedule to match. They also know when you’re home or away and will adjust your heating and cooling as necessary.
As an extra perk, you’ll also be able to monitor and adjust your settings from just about anywhere on your phone. Some models can even notify you if they detect a problem with your furnace or remind you when it’s time to change your air filter.
There’s a significant difference in furnace quality and reliability. Like any large purchase, we believe it’s wisest to go with a major brand name. With a leading brand like Lennox® or Goodman®, you’ll have more confidence in the technology and that the manufacturer will uphold its product warranty over the long term.
Furnaces usually have two primary warranty coverage areas:
- Heat exchanger. This is the heart of the furnace and the costliest component to replace. This part usually has a 20-year limited warranty or lifetime limited warranty, but this can differ based on the manufacturer and furnace model.
- Main parts. This includes the blower motor, electronic controls, ignitors and other key parts. Warranties can vary from as short as a one-year limited warranty to as much as a 10-year limited warranty.
When reviewing warranty coverage, it’s important to know it's limited. So, you should make sure you get the restrictions. For instance, nearly all standard manufacturer warranties only include the cost of the replacement part, not labor. And labor on a replacing heat exchanger could get costly.
Once your new furnace is installed, make sure you complete the product registration immediately. Many manufacturers may reduce the warranty term if the product registration is not completed. This step is easy and usually only takes a few minutes.
How much does all this cost anyhow? It could vary from $1,700 for a basic furnace, or $5,500 or more for a high-efficiency model.
As you consider these costs and the impact to your budget, remember that unlike nearly every other appliance you may need to buy, your new furnace may help pay for itself from the monthly energy savings it offers.
A couple of additional ways to save include:
- Getting a new air conditioner simultaneously.
- Purchasing at the right time, such as in early fall, mid-winter and early spring. You may be able to get extra discounts and rebates during this slower season.
- Reap the benefits of rebates from the federal and state government, as well as from your local utility company. We can help you figure out this process.
- Finance your new furnace or enroll in our exclusive HVAC Advantage Program™. For just one low monthly fee, you’ll receive a new furnace with repairs and maintenance included.*
How Do I Know When to Replace My Furnace?
Now that you know what to look for in a new furnace, when should you replace your old one? Here are a few tips from our Experts that will help you decide.
Heating systems typically last 15–20 years. How long yours will keep going depends on whether you’ve done furnace maintenance, where you live and your desired temperature. If you’re in a place with harsh winters, your furnace will operate more frequently, potentially making it wear out sooner. The same applies if you like to keep your home at a warmer temperature.
Repair Frequency and Cost
Just like any appliance, as furnaces get older, the likelihood for frequent furnace repair increases. If your system is more than 15 years old, those repairs can be particularly expensive. Common and costly repairs on an older furnace include:
- Blower motor failures
- Ignition control failures
- Heat exchanger failures
If repairs are greater than the half the cost of a new furnace, it’s generally recommended to replace it.
Furnaces older than 15 years can be extremely inefficient. You could be wasting as much as 30% of the money you spend to heat your home. Excessive energy costs and the desire to reduce energy use are also strong reasons to consider replacing your furnace. In fact, an independent study by Decision Analyst shows nearly 20% of homeowners who recently replaced their furnace specifically did so to lower their utility bills.
Trust Your Furnace Replacement to the Experts
It can seem overwhelming trying to investigate furnace features on your own. Or know exactly when you should get a new furnace. Our Midland Air Service Experts Experts are here to make the process much simpler. Call us at 803-399-7208 or schedule an appointment online to request your free home comfort assessment today.
*For HVAC Service Memberships, certain warranty exclusions and limitations apply. See your signed agreement for full terms and conditions. For the Advantage Program™, please see your signed Advantage Program Agreement for full details and exclusions. Lease with approved credit; visit ServiceExperts.com for details.