Furnaces Buying Guide


Replacing the old furnace in your main heating unit with a new, more reliable model can offset unstable energy costs. Money aside, today’s furnaces pollute less and enhance convenience by producing heat more steadily than older furnaces. Gas is the most typical heating fuel and this report concentrates on gas heating systems. (To learn which brand names of heating systems are the most and least trusted, inspect our frequency of repair work report from the Customer Reports National Research Center.).

How do most people tackle purchasing a heating system? Initially, they call service providers and ask for estimates. To prepare this report, we did too. More than 500 professionals in property heating and a/c told us about their experiences in setting up and keeping heating equipment.

Size matters a lot. The furnace’s specs should fit your requirements. A heater that’s too small won’t keep your house comfy throughout extremely-cold weather condition.

Partially to prevent that possibility, the furnaces in a lot of houses are larger than necessary. Preliminary expense is only one of the disadvantages of that method. A furnace that’s too large will cycle on and off more regularly. That puts more wear on its components, wastes energy, and might cause the temperature level to vary uncomfortably. Likewise, a bigger replacement heater might require bigger ducts. Without the ideal size ducts, airflow can be loud.

To be sure of proper sizing and a correct replacement, choose a trusted service provider who will take the time to determine your heating requires inning accordance with an industry requirement such as in “Manual J A/C Residential Load Calculation” of the Heating and cooling Service providers of America. Such computations take into account the environment and the size, design, and building of your house. When the heater is set up, preserve it frequently inning accordance with the producer’s recommendations. Our study helped to validate this advice. When we inquired about the most common factors for service calls for heating systems, professionals pointed out human mistake– inadequate upkeep, for instance, or inappropriate installation– twice as frequently as faulty equipment. Read our frequency of repair report for which brand names or the most and least trustworthy.

Efficiency also matters.
Gas is currently the most typical heating fuel and most new central-heating systems make use of gas. How effectively a heater converts gas into heating energy is reflected in its yearly fuel-utilization-efficiency (AFUE) score, which is determined as a portion. The greater the number, the more heat the furnace can wring from each therm of gas. Since efficient heaters generate less emissions, environmental factors to consider might likewise influence your choice.

Furnaces have ended up being more energy-efficient throughout the years. A gas heater made in the early 1970s typically has an AFUE of about 65 percent. The lowest efficiency allowed by law for new gas furnaces is 78 percent, and some new models achieve 97 percent– near-total performance.

The price of a furnace normally increases in step with its fuel efficiency. A heater with a 90 percent AFUE might cost $1,000 more than a similar size device with an 80 percent AFUE. However you can typically recover that additional cost through lower fuel costs over the life of the heating system– particularly in areas such as the Northeast and Midwest, where winters can be severe. How swiftly you recover the financial investment baseds upon more than simply AFUE. The electrical power to run heaters with various AFUEs can differ considerably. The environment where you live, how well your house is insulated, and your local gas and electrical power rates also influence repayment times.

As you decide, insist that the professional choose designs in a variety of performances and determine the annual estimated operating expense of each model you’re considering, rather than merely approximating it. The contractor can finish those calculations by plugging info on each system’s AFUE and electrical usage, local utility rates, and qualities of your home into one of several computer system programs created to quickly determine estimates. Make sure that the quotes also include the expense of any changes to venting needed by any devices in the home.

Other concerns to ask the service provider: Is the design you’re considering relatively brand-new– introduced, state, 2 years ago or less– and hence relatively untried? If it’s an older model, has the contractor discovered any dependability problems with it?

You can make your home more energy-efficient in several ways. Turn down the thermostat in winter season; simply two degrees cooler will conserve you cash and decrease emissions by about 6 percent. You might not even feel the difference, specifically during the night or when you’re out of your house (a programmable thermostat can assist here). Draw the curtains at night to obstruct the chill from a cold window. Keep the windows covered on sunny days throughout the summer season, and reveal them on bright days during the winter to take advantage of some totally free solar heating. Minimize heat loss from ducts by sealing leakages and, where possible, insulating ducts.

Repair work or change?
If your gas furnace fails or fails, a couple of basic procedures may save you the expense and difficulty of seeking professional assistance:.

If you’re getting low airflow, inspect the air filter on the heater; a blocked filter could cut airflow to a trickle.
See if there are loose wires or a breakdown in the thermostat. For an electronic thermostat that works on batteries, try changing them.
Are fuses burned out or breaker tripped? If so, power may have been cut to the fan or motherboard.
If those steps do not work, call a heating contractor. In spite of the improved efficiency of most new furnaces, it’s normally more cost-effective to repair a heating system than to change it. Nevertheless, if a vital element such as the heat exchanger or control module fails, you’re probably better off replacing the heating system, particularly if the system is more than about 15 years old (heating systems generally last approximately 15 to 18 years).
A lot of and least reputable.
If you have to replace your furnace, you’ll be thankful to hear that today’s more-efficient gas furnaces can conserve you p to $40 for every $100 you spend on fuel compared to older models. They are also, typically, less likely to require repair services, according to our study of customers, who informed us about 21,132 heating systems they bought in between 2008 and early 2014.

Dependability is specifically essential since when a heating system failed, 77 percent required substantial work. A majority of those broke down completely, with nearly a third producing no heat for more than a day. For 40 percent, the repair work expense $150 or more.

To heat your home and warm water, you can select from amongst numerous energy sources. Rates vary widely inning accordance with the type of furnace and the installation.


Gas heaters

Gas is presently the most typical heating fuel. Most brand-new central-heating systems utilize gas, the focus of this report.


Oil furnaces

These age-old designs still keep a specific niche in older houses, primarily in the Northeast.


Heat pumps
Heat pumps that wring heat from outside air (and reverse the process in summer season to serve as an ac unit) are inexpensive to install as an option to a cooling-only air-conditioning system. That makes them the favored way to heat in the South and Southwest, where winter seasons are generally short and mild. Heat pumps that wring heat from the ground are far more expensive to install, but they are suitable for cold climates due to the fact that they can maintain their operating performance. Other inexpensive electric-heat options consist of strip heaters, which are set up in the ductwork of central air conditioning, and permanently set up baseboard units in each room. But before you consider any type of electrical central heating in colder areas, keep in mind that electrical power rates are much higher than those for natural gas and are likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future. You can get rate info for different fuels from local utilities and providers.


Each brand name of heater offers a comparable selection of key features, baseding upon cost. The heating system showcases frequently highlighted in products and material literature and sales pitches are typically the ones found on the higher-efficiency models, however some manufacturers likewise provide them on premium variations of low-efficiency heating systems.


Variable-speed blowers
These can provide air slower (while often making less sound) when less heat is required. That produces fewer drafts and awkward swings in temperature.


Variable heat output
Readily available on some heating systems that have a variable-speed blower, this feature can enhance efficiency and convenience by automatically differing the quantity of heat the heating system delivers, normally between 2 levels. The furnace can hence deliver heat more continually than might one with a taken care of heat output.


Air filtering

Fitting a heating system with an electrostatic filter, which utilizes an electrical charge to help trap fragments, or a high-efficiency particulate-arresting (HEPA) filter can lower the quantity of dust blown through the heating system. That might assist individuals with asthma or other chronic lung diseases, but there’s little proof that other people need such purification.


Dual heat exchanger

Heat exchangers are the components that draw heat from the scorched gas. To draw more heat from the air they burn, energy-efficient heaters supplement the primary exchanger with a second exchanger. Because the exhaust gases in that second exchanger may yield a corrosive acidic condensate, the second exchanger is made from stainless steel, lined with plastic, or otherwise secured.


Ignition system

Less and less heaters have a pilot light– a flame that burns continually, waiting for the next command to spark the burners. Furnaces with intermittent, direct stimulate, or hot-surface ignition do away with the consistent pilot light in different ways. That increases performance and is usually reflected in a heater’s greater AFUE rating.


Zoned heating
This feature makes use of a variety of thermostats, an advanced main controller, and a series of dampers that manage airflow to provide different quantities of heating or cooling to different parts of the home. The bigger the house, as a rule, the more useful zoning is. That’s particularly true if areas of the house have different heating or cooling requirements– since of wide variations in the number or kind of windows, for example. However specialists we talked to stated that furnaces connected to zoned ductwork usually require more repair service.


Service warranty
Basic (normally low performance) heaters often have a much shorter guarantee than their premium counterparts.


In our study of repair work history, we discovered no statistically meaningful differences in percent of models ever fixed for the leading brand names of heaters. Use these profiles to compare furnaces by brand name.

American Requirement
American Requirement makes and markets main heaters that are available in single and multistage setups, with some designs capable of an AFUE rating of more than 90 percent. American Basic markets units that satisfy Energy Star requirements and makes others that it claims offer quiet operation. The typical cost of an American Level central gas furnace is about $3,000 and American Standards are offered through their dealer network.

Bryant produces and markets gas main heaters that are readily available in single and multistage setups, with some models capable of an AFUE rating of more than 90 percent. Bryant markets devices that fulfill Energy Star requirements and makes others that it declares offer peaceful operation. A new line of hybrid heat systems that utilizes gas and an electrical heat pump was recently presented. The typical cost of a Bryant main gas heating system has to do with $2,300 and Bryants are sold through their dealer network.

Provider is another leading maker and marketer of gas main heating systems. Provider central heating systems are offered in single and multistage configurations, with some models efficient in an AFUE rating of more than 90. Provider markets systems that meet Energy Star requirements and makes others that it claims offer quiet operation. A brand-new line of hybrid heat systems that makes use of gas and an electrical heat pump was just recently introduced. The typical price of a Carrier central gas heater has to do with $2,800 and Providers are offered through their dealer network.

Lennox is another leading manufacturer and marketer of gas central heaters. Lennox main heating systems are offered in single and multistage configurations, with some designs efficient in an AFUE rating of more than 90 percent. Lennox markets devices that fulfill Energy Star requirements and makes others that it declares offer peaceful operation. The average rate of a Lennox central gas heater has to do with $2,500 and Lennoxes are offered through their dealer network.

Rheem produces and markets gas main heating systems that are readily available in single and multistage setups, with some models efficient in an AFUE score of more than 90 percent. Some systems fulfill Energy Star requirements. The typical rate of a Rheem main gas heating system is about $2,300 and Rheems are sold through their dealership network. Rheem items are made by the same maker as Ruud.

Trane is one of the leading makers and marketers of gas central furnaces. Trane central heating systems are readily available in single and multistage configurations, with some models capable of an AFUE score of more than 90 percent. The average rate of a Trane main gas furnace is about $3,000 and Tranes they are sold through their dealership network.