I’ve been in the heating and air conditioning business for over 20 years, and I’ve always been proud to serve the Dublin, Ohio, community. The homeowners there have treated me well, and I’ve done my best to return the favor.
I don’t like to deliver bad news to homeowners. But sometimes the truth has to be told: The cost to do a certain furnace repair is in the thousands of dollars, and you’d be better off with a new unit.
Sure, you get a shiny, new furnace that will last for 15-20 years with the proper use and care, but the shock of being in the middle of winter facing a hit to the wallet is not pleasant.
It’s worse if the decision has to be made quickly. That causes a mini panic when homeowners tend to go with the first estimate they hear, not knowing if another choice would better suit their comfort needs.
We do things the right way when it comes to installing furnaces, both electric and gas.
I’d like to dispense some basic information about furnaces so that you can make a more knowledgeable decision when the time comes.
Before the Furnace Installation
Best practices start when an HVAC salesperson first meets with you. They should take the time to answer any questions you have. Then they should perform a Manual J Load Calculation, a series of measurements that include different parameters of your home. This takes into account things like insulation, number, size, and quality of the windows. This will determine how powerful your furnace should be.
They need to check make sure the ductwork is properly sized to facilitate a new system, and measure the area where the new furnace will be installed to make sure it can fit. The gas lines and electrical need to be checked to ensure that they’re set up properly. Depending on the new furnace, a new chimney flue liner or PVC drain line may need to be installed.
Depending on the air conditioner that’s already installed, it may necessitate a certain type of furnace so that the two are compatible. In HVAC terms, they have to “rate.” This is primarily because the blower motor in the furnace moves air for both heating and cooling, and needs to be calibrated for each. This can all to huge problems if it’s not checked.
All of this information needs to be passed along to the installer. Many problems that homeowners experience with furnaces aren’t from inevitable wear and tear, but are from improper installation practices. Starting off on the right foot is the best way to ensure that you avoid these long-term problems.
Next, let’s examine types of furnaces.
Furnace Efficiency Ratings
AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. It’s the measure of furnace efficiency for gas furnaces.
AFUE is measured on a scale up to 100%. A theoretical 100% efficient furnace would produce zero waste. Think of it like gas mileage. The higher your efficiency, the more mileage per dollar you’re getting out of your furnace. So, for example, an 80% gas furnace would get 80 cents of heating for every dollar spent.
AFUE Rating Levels:
A standard furnace is 80% efficient. The minimum AFUE for new furnaces is 80% as of 01/01/2015. A 20-year-old furnace is only about 60% effective, so it will waste 40% of its heat and energy.
High-efficiency furnaces generally refer to anything at or above 90% efficiency. The most efficient gas furnaces can operate up to 98%.
A higher efficiency model generally costs more than a standard one. The tradeoff is that a high-efficiency model won’t cost you as much to operate. If you plan on being in your home for 15 years or so, you can probably make your money back.
Another consideration is that electric furnaces are 100% efficient. For this reason, they have certain environmental advantages over low-efficiency furnaces. However, because of the traditionally high price of electricity compared to the volatile price of natural gas, this doesn’t always translate to utility cost savings. Gas burns hotter than the heat generated by an electric furnace.
Electric furnaces are generally paired with heat pumps. In a cold-weather location, you would need a higher-end heat pump paired with the furnace to keep the electricity bill reasonable.
Next, we need to examine furnaces by how many “stages” they have.
Single-Stage, Two-Stage, and Variable-Speed Furnaces
A standard, single-stage furnace has two settings: 100% on and 100% off.
A two-stage furnace has one more setting. Usually, this is 60 or 70% of its maximum heating capacity. Why is this important? Because you don’t always need 100% of your furnace’s heating output. You may need only a little bit of heat to maintain your comfort level.
A variable-speed (or modulating) furnace has numerous settings. Often, the lowest stage is 40% of the unit’s maximum output. These can maintain the temperature inside to almost exactly what the thermometer is set to, and is the most efficient - and expensive - of the three.
What’s the Cost of Furnaces?
How much should you expect to spend?
A new furnace replacement can cost between $3,000 - $8,000, depending on the size of your home, the efficiency of your new furnace, and the sophistication of the equipment. That includes labor and permit fees, not just equipment costs. It does not include ductwork or ventilation modification or indoor air quality add-ons, which won’t be a part of every installation.
The range above accounts for small homes up to homes that are 5,000+ square feet. It also includes single-stage, two-stage, and variable-speed furnaces, as well as each of those types in both standard and high-efficiency models.
We encourage you to compare quotes when you start inviting HVAC contractors to your home, but it’s important to compare apples to apples. This means not only comparing equipment, but also installation costs and installation procedures, which can ensure (or ruin) the efficiency of your system. A poor installation will cost you needless repairs and rob you of efficiency for years.
New Furnace Installation and Replacement in Dublin, Ohio
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to buying a new furnace. Different brands have differing standards. You can go as high-tech as you like, but you may be content with the most cost-efficient model available.
A good conversation with a knowledgeable HVAC contractor can help sort out any remaining questions.
But there’s one more major decision to make: Which HVAC partner will sell you the right unit, and install it to exacting standards?
Thorough installation practices are essential for the health, safety, and comfort of your new furnace. The most important day in the life of a furnace is the day of its installation.
That’s why you must choose an HVAC partner who will not cut corners to save themselves time or money.
Read more: Cutting Corners: A Look at the Best and Worst HVAC Company Practices in Columbus, OH
And if you’re in Dublin, Ohio, and are ready for your free in-home estimate to replace your existing furnace and upgrade to a new system, we hope you’ll consider Fire & Ice.
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