by: Todd Submitoff
Getting a new furnace can be a difficult task. When it comes to furnaces there are several different types of systems and options to choose between. While a good contractor will help you find the right furnace you also want to do your own research to make sure you are making an informed decision.
The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency or AFUE is used to rate most furnaces. The AFUE measures how much heat is delivered to your house in comparison to the amount of fuel that you need to give to the furnace. For example, an 80% AFUE rating means that 80% of the fuel you supply is used for heat while the other 20% is lost through the chimney. However, the AFUE will only tell you the fuel efficiency of the furnace and not the electrical usage.
As of January 1, 1992, the US Department of Energy determined that all furnaces need to have a minimum of 78% AFUE to be sold in the United States. Most furnaces have an AFUE rating of 80%, but high efficiency furnaces can have an AFUE as high as 90%. If you live in cold weather, areas the higher the percent rating the more money you save during cold winter months.
Choosing a Location
When choosing where to place your furnace the area in which you live plays a major role. For those in colder regions the best option is a gas or oil furnace or boiler. For those in a warmer region it may be a better choice to use a gas furnace or heat pump. If you don't have a gas or oil service where you live then you may need to choose an electric heating system such as electric furnaces or heat pumps. If gas is available, but you home doesn't have it then you may want to talk with a plumber about installing a gas line. Although if electric costs are cheap in your area then an electrical system can be a better choice. The best form of advice is to talk with a reputable HVAC contractor in your area. However, because of the low cost in most areas a natural gas furnace or boiler can be a good idea.
When it comes to gas furnaces the most expensive and important part is the heat exchanger. Typically, a separate parts warrantee covers this part. This warranty typically covers five years, but some can be as high as ten to twenty years.
Choosing a Thermostat
If you aren't home during certain parts of the day, it can be a good idea to consider getting a programmable thermostat. This way you can set your unit to a low temperature when you aren't home and then have the house return to a comfortable temperature at a certain time before you arrive home. This also allows you to set temperatures different for when you are asleep and when you are awake. Many programmable thermostats can be set by the week so you can easily program it for specific days when you are home and those days that you aren't home.
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