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Louisville Homeowner's Guide to Choosing a New Furnace

Furnace Buying Guide

If you need a new furnace installed in your Louisville home, do you know what equipment you want to replace your old furnace with? When it’s time to pick a furnace for your home, there are several options on the market. Older furnaces can be upgraded with new natural gas furnaces, electric furnaces, propane furnaces, or oil furnaces. Modern furnaces include options like modulating gas furnaces with variable speed blowers, sealed combustion heating systems, two stage gas furnaces, and more.

Before you begin to shop for a new furnace, it’s important to know what you’re looking for in a heating system. HVAC system size, furnace efficiency rating, and fuel source are all things you need to decide on before you can start combing through the market for the best furnace.

Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Is a Louisville HVAC contractor who provides furnace installation for homeowners throughout the Greater Louisville Metro area. Between our Homeowner’s Buying Guide and personal consultation, our team will answer all of your furnace questions. Find out how energy efficient your existing furnace is and how its energy efficiency compares to most modern furnaces. Learn how an efficient furnace will impact your heating bills. Discover how much heating power is required to provide the warm air your home needs to keep the programmable thermostat at a comfortable temperature. Explore your fuel source options and see what a difference each choice makes on your energy bills.

Equipment Sizing for a Gas Furnace or Electric Furnace

It doesn’t matter if you want natural gas furnaces, oil furnaces, electric furnaces, propane models, high efficiency furnaces, or a standard efficiency furnace –  size matters. HVAC systems need to be sized appropriately for a home or else heating and cooling equipment will not function properly. Finding the right fit matters for optimal efficiency, best comfort management, and protecting the new furnace from damage and early replacement.

Older furnaces and new furnaces alike measure capacity by British Thermal Units (BTUs). The size of a furnace doesn’t refer to the unit’s physical dimensions but its capability for producing heat. Furnace size informs a consumer how many BTUs are required over an hour to increase the indoor temperature to a comfortable level.

How do you size a home’s heating system correctly? Working with a qualified HVAC technician really makes the difference here. HVAC companies perform a load calculation, which determines how much heat is needed to raise the temperature in a home. With this information, you can find the right furnace that is the right size.

It may sound like a good idea to pick a modern furnace that is a size bigger or smaller. One could assume that a bigger furnace produces more heat and heats a home faster, while a smaller furnace can be purchased at a lower furnace cost. While both of these things may be true, they are certainly not desirable. Incorrectly sized heating systems generate all sorts of comfort problems –  an oversized furnace blows hot air into a home too quickly while a small furnace is unable to generate enough warm air. As these systems fail to operate properly, they experience more stress and wear which causes components to break down. This stress will eventually lead to early system death. The only way to avoid the discomfort and high monthly heating bill that results when you use this type of furnace is to replace it.

Sizing must be exact for heating and cooling HVAC system equipment. If you need to find a new furnace for your home, first call your HVAC contractor to perform a heating load calculation and determine the right size for your new furnace.

Choices for Furnace Fuel Source

A number of different energy choices can be used to heat a home. Before you start comparing furnaces, you need to think about the fuel source you want to use to create heat for your family. A standard efficiency furnace or a high efficiency furnace can be found using natural gas, heating oil, electricity, or propane as a fuel source. The type of fuel you heat your home with will affect your energy bills as well as the initial cost of buying a new furnace and having the furnace installed at your home.

Often, homeowners feel it’s simplest to replace an old furnace with a new unit that uses the same fuel source. If you have multiple energy sources available to your home or it’s feasible to connect to a new utility source, using a different type of heating system fuel may have some advantages.

  • Most homes in the Louisville area use natural gas furnaces.
  • Electric furnaces typically have a higher furnace cost whereas buying a natural gas furnace will cost you more. However, there is a trade-off when it comes to energy bills. Operating natural gas furnaces will often have lower gas furnace costs due to lower energy costs as well as the way they heat compared to electric models.
  • Many older homes use propane or oil furnaces and have on-site storage tanks that hold fuel for use. However, these furnaces require some extra monitoring and work. You need to be diligent about how much fuel is left in your tank and scheduling refills or else these central heating systems won’t have enough fuel left to create heat.

Furnace Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency

Furnace HVAC systems have energy efficiency ratings that tell consumers how much fuel is used for heating and if the unit wastes energy. AFUE stands for annual fuel utilization efficiency and this percentage will tell you the efficiency of your existing furnace or a new one. Basically, it shares the amount of total energy consumption made into heat and the amount wasted.

Minimum efficiency furnaces are 80% AFUE. When it comes to your monthly heating bills, 80% of that total was used to make heat for your family and 20% of it is wasted with this type of furnace. A high efficiency gas furnace goes up to around 98% AFUE while an electric high efficiency furnace can be 100% AFUE because no electricity is wasted in the generation of heat.

When shopping for high efficiency furnaces, you’ll find features that aren’t available in standard efficiency furnaces. These features and advanced components improve the energy efficiency of the system and offer better comfort control for the user. Some choices you will have as you determine how to choose a new furnace include:

  • A modulating furnace gets its name from its modulating gas valve, which can vary output to make fine temperature adjustments. Modulating gas furnaces also have a variable speed blower motor so they can adjust airflow as needed for best energy efficiency at all times.
  • Two stage gas furnaces use a blower motor that has two operating speeds – full capacity and reduced capacity. The furnace can choose the appropriate setting based on current heating needs to save energy. The lowest energy efficiency furnaces are single stage furnaces which have a blower that runs at a fixed speed.
  • Furnaces with sealed combustion don’t use the home’s air but rather they take in outdoor air. By doing so, they lower heat loss so the system operates at greater efficiency compared to an atmospheric furnace.
  • Condensing furnaces are a type of high efficiency model that features two heat exchangers instead of one. The secondary heat exchanger allows the furnace heating system to capture more energy from the combustion process and use it for space heating.

Furnace Prices and Your Budget

Replacing an old furnace through a furnace installation project is no cheap task. Furnace prices average in the thousands and furnace cost is greatly impacted by the different factors we mentioned above.

  • A gas furnace typically costs more to buy versus an electric unit. However, they are known to warm air faster so they use less energy through operation. This can generate savings for homeowners in the long run.
  • If your home requires a larger furnace, this unit will cost more than if a smaller capacity furnace was required.
  • Furnace prices typically increase alongside furnace efficiency. A high efficiency furnace will be more costly than an efficient furnace on the lower end high efficiency or a standard efficiency HVAC system.

If you want to find out the exact furnace prices for any gas furnace or other model you are considering for purchase, call your HVAC contractor. HVAC companies provide quotes for furnace installation which will include the price to buy a new furnace. There are several HVAC system manufacturers producing a number of different furnace options, so don’t worry that a choice may be out of your price range as another brand may have a comparable unit available that is more affordable.

Furnace Installation in Louisville

Older furnaces won’t last forever – furnace replacement can provide your Louisville area home with ample warm air and a reliable source of heating for years to come. Contact Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating & Cooling today to discuss new furnace choices and receive an estimate for furnace installation cost.

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