Heating

Your Ultimate Furnace Buying Guide


A new furnace is a big investment for most homeowners. You want to ensure that you choose the right option that fits your family’s needs.

Start by Deciding Your Fuel Type

Furnaces are specifically designed to run on one of four different fuels: electric, heating oil, propane, and natural gas. Both the area that you live in and your operating budget are going to play a large role in the particular type of furnace that you purchase.

The most widely used furnaces across the country are those powered by natural gas and heating oil. Natural gas tends to be the cheapest to run. However, you’ll need to live in an area that has a supply that you can tap onto. Otherwise, heating oil is your next best option. Heating oil tends to burn much hotter, which means a hotter home in less time and less fuel burned to produce the same amount of heat. Unlike natural gas, you’ll need an on-site storage tank for your heating oil.

Propane and electricity are great for areas where natural gas and traditional heating oil aren’t easily accessible. Propane is more expensive to burn than heating oil and natural gas. However, it burns more efficiently than natural gas, so you won’t need as much of it to produce the same amount of heat as natural gas. Just as with heating oil, you’ll need to have an on-site storage tank for your propane. The final option is the electric-powered furnaces. These are going to be the absolute cheapest furnace to purchase. However, since the furnace is powered by electricity, it will be the most expensive to run.

Determine the BTU Capacity That You Need

Once you decide what type of fuel you’ll be burning in your furnace, it’s time to consider what heating capacity it will need to have to comfortably heat your home. Don’t fall victim to the idea that bigger is better. When you opt for a furnace that has way more heating capacity than your home needs, it will cost you more money to run and consistently kick on and off, leaving an uncomfortable environment.

Instead, you want to invest in a furnace that has a heating capacity as near to your desired BTU needs as possible. To figure out your demands, you’ll need to know the square footage of your home. For example, let’s say that your home is 2,000 square feet. Next, you’ll need about 35 BTUs of power for every square foot of space in your Jacksonville, FL, home. After doing the math, it becomes clear that you’re going to need a furnace that has a heating capacity of around 70,000 BTUs.

Choose a Furnace Type

There are three furnace classifications that you have to choose from. These are the single-stage, multi-stage, and modulating. While this may sound a bit confusing a first, these categorizations are simply based on the way that each furnace runs.

The single-stage furnace is by far the most common. It has one flame inside of it that is either fully on or fully off. When this type of system turns on, it will rev up before you feel warm air coming out of your vents. This furnace will run until it’s within a couple of degrees of your temperature setting and then shut off. This furnace is great for meeting your basic heating needs and is the cheapest of the three options.

A step up is the multi-stage, also referred to as “a two-stage furnace.” This type of furnace has been available for about the last 15 years and offers more precise temperature control. Instead of just one flame like the single-stage system, this furnace has two flames inside of it. The smaller flame is intended for mild temperatures while the larger flame is intended for colder temperatures. Multi-stage furnaces are more capable of maintaining constant heat, which means more continuous comfort for your home.

Modulating furnaces are relatively new and boast a micro-managing flame that can automatically adjust up or down depending on your specific heating needs. This type of furnace will run to keep your home within 0.2 degrees of your desired temperature setting. With a modulating furnace, you’ll get even heating that provides maximum comfort for your family and guests. However, you’re going to pay more for a modulating furnace than you are a single or multi-stage furnace.

Consider Energy-efficiency Options

When you invest in a new furnace, you want to take advantage of the energy-efficient options available. The most energy-efficient furnaces on the market are going to come at a higher up-front cost. However, their ongoing operating costs are going to be much cheaper than their less energy-efficient counterparts.

Determining the level of fuel efficiency for any furnace can easily be done by looking at its AFUE value. This stands for “annualized fuel utilization efficiency” and simply reveals how much heat is produced for every dollar that you spend on fuel. So, the higher the AFUE rating on a furnace, the less you’ll spend on fuel to heat your home.

The most energy-efficient options on the market today will have AFUE values in the 90s. The minimum AFUE rating for any furnace is 78. If you’re looking for fuel-efficient options at an affordable price, you’ll want to aim for an AFUE rating of between 80% and 85%. If you’re okay spending more upfront on getting an energy-efficient option, then aim for a furnace with an AFUE rating between 90% and 97%.

A Note on Necessary Supporting Structures

A furnace doesn’t work to heat a house on its own. It needs a support structure in order to transfer the heat it makes throughout your home. If you’re simply replacing an existing furnace, then you already have this support structure of ducting, vents, and so forth. However, if you’re purchasing a furnace for a newly constructed home, then you’ll need to factor in the costs of your supporting structures.

The most vital support structure is your ducting. This is the ventilation system that works to force heat throughout the various rooms in your home. Your ducting is going to be connected to a series of vents. There should be at least two in each room of your home, which are the supply and return vents. These are responsible for circulating air throughout your home.

Lastly, we have the chimney. While you may think of a chimney as only something that you need when you have a fireplace, that’s simply not the case. Chimneys are simply meant to dispel exhaust gases from your furnace as its fuel burns. Unless you opt for purchasing a high-efficiency furnace, you’re going to need a chimney in your home. Realize that it will need to be cleaned once a year as part of your system maintenance.

Trusted Furnace Services

Reliable Ducts Heating & Cooling provides trusted furnace services to the whole Jacksonville, FL, area. We also offer top-quality cooling, heating, and air quality services. Call us today to speak with a helpful staff member who can answer all of your questions and schedule your next service appointment.

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