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Choosing a Gas Furnace

Your Simple (Yes, Simple) Guide to Choosing a Right Gas Furnace

If you are considering the purchase of a new gas furnace, you need a quick guide on what all factors need to be considered before choosing one. Here is a buying guide for the same, in a nutshell.
Omkar Phatak
Last Updated: May 31, 2018
A basic need of almost every homeowner in North America, living in the upper latitudes, is an effective heating system that can warm the house in winter, as the mercury dips below zero degree Celsius. Gas furnaces are fast replacing old oil-based heaters due to their high efficiency. If the existing heating system in your home has reached an end of its service life, which is generally the case, switching over to a new gas heater is a decision which you cannot delay. Old oil or coal-based gas heaters show a pronounced drop in efficiency after 10 to 15 years of use, which makes their further usage impractical.
Working
Modern thermostat operated furnaces switch on automatically, according to preset controls, when the temperature in a house drops below a certain point. The burners are triggered into action, which cause the combustion of the supplied natural gas, to heat air which is absorbed from the house, through vents.
Subsequently, this heat is supplied back into the house, to provide warmth. The gaseous remnants after combustion are released out of the house, through a vent system. When air is absorbed, it is filtered for dust and contaminants.
Choosing the Right One
Here are the most important points to consider.
Size Matters
Contact your local contractor, to determine what size of furnace will suit your house. Depending on the size of your house and its floor space, the volume of warm air and heat that needs to be circulated every hour during winter, will vary. You have to determine the exact size of heater, that can adequately supply enough warmth to the entire house, during winter. To determine the exact size, take help from a HVAC professional or your local contractor specializing in supply and installation of gas heaters.
Type and Features
Among gas heaters, there are two prime types, which you may choose from. The first one is the condensing type and the second is the non-condensing type. Condensing gas heaters have separate heat exchangers, which absorb heat from exhaust gases, that are released through the combustion of natural gas.
Non-condensing types do not have this feature. The former are more efficient compared to the latter ones and obviously cost more. Check out for other features like programmable thermostats and variable speed fans, which can help you make optimum usage of fuel resources.
Heating Efficiency
The most important of all features that you need to check out is heating efficiency, which is provided by its Annual Fuel Utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating, which is usually quoted in percentage. Higher the percentage, more efficient is the furnace and more money it will save, in terms of fuel costs. Condensing gas furnaces, with more than 90% AFUE rating exist, and fall in the high price category. Furnaces with efficiency ranging from 60% to 90% are ideal for houses in moderate temperatures, while high efficiency furnaces are best suited for cold climates. Carrier, Lennox, Goodman, Trane, and Rheem are some of the best brands to check out.
Return on Investment
A little bit of math will make it easier for you to determine which furnace can save more money for you. Make a return on investment (ROI) calculation, by dividing the total cost of the furnace, by the money it will save you in fuel costs every year.
Check out the price ranges and efficiency ratings. Make an estimate based of the amount of fuel used every year. That should help you decide which one of the furnaces would be a better investment.
The most important factor is the heating efficiency provided by the gas furnace, which will decide how much money you save over the course of its service life. As suggested before, if your house falls in the 'Frigid' zone during winter, a high efficiency furnace is a must, as the extra price paid, will be recovered eventually. Do the math before purchasing one and ensure that you run a periodic maintenance schedule, which will certainly enhance the life of the system and maintain high efficiency.