Your family relies on your furnace to stay warm and comfortable all winter long. A high-quality furnace can do that while also lowering your utility bills and energy costs. Due to their high efficiencies, versatility, and reasonable installation costs, furnaces remain one of the most popular choices in residential heating. They offer great flexibility to fit almost any home, acting as the core of your central air system.
Compare a furnace to the other types of home heating systems in our HVAC U article “Selecting a Home Heating System”.
HOW IT WORKS
A furnace can use propane, natural gas, heating oil or electricity to internally heat the air before it enters your living areas. Typically, they are placed in the basement, attic, crawl spaces or closet within a home and are connected to a ductwork distribution system. Below, we take a deeper dive into the different types of furnaces: gas, oil and electric.
TYPES OF FURNACES
Gas furnaces are by far the most common choice of homeowners. In a gas furnace system, the heating begins with natural gas or propane ignited by the burner within the unit. Cool air is drawn through the returns from the distribution system and into the unit, passing over a heat exchanger that is warmed by the burner. The furnace’s blower forces the air through the ductwork to distribute the warm air through the home, and then repeats the process as the cooler air is pulled back through the return ducts.
Propane and heating oil are most often stored on-site, either inside or outside of the home in a liquified state. Natural gas is delivered from a supplier at a remote location and brought into the home through a series of underground piping.
An oil furnace works by using a fuel pump to pull oil from a reserve tank, most often installed underneath your home. The oil is then drawn through a filter and into a burner chamber, where the oil is converted into a mist and then is sprayed onto the system’s burner. The cool air in your home is pulled into the system and warmed when passing over the chamber, which then moves through the ductwork to heat your home.
Due to higher costs for oil and the special burner required to regulate the flow of oil, this option has become less popular among homeowners. An oil furnace is equipped to handle a specific flame style, similar to a blow torch, making it more expensive and less efficient with operating efficiency at or below 85%. However, if gas is not readily available in your area, an oil furnace may be the best option for your home.
Electric furnaces work similar to a gas furnace, but the air is heated by wire coils instead of gas burners. Working similarly to a hair dryer, the unit pulls in cool air which is then pushed over the heat exchanger. The heated air is then pushed through the ductwork of the home, heating up the house to the desired temperature.
In an electric furnace, the air is heated by wire coils. Since it loses no heat through a chimney or vent, it is 100% efficient. Although electric furnaces are extremely efficient, they may not be the best choice to heat larger homes. Electric furnaces are the least expensive to purchase and install, but electric heat is also expensive. While no energy is being wasted with electric heat, it will cost more than gas heat in the long run.
WHY CHOOSE A FURNACE AS YOUR HOME HEATING SOLUTION?
While the initial investment of a furnace installation can be expensive, it’s possible to save up to 30% on utility costs once it’s up and running. In addition to better functionality, you’ll significantly reduce your future energy consumption and save even more on future furnace maintenance.
ENHANCED LEVEL OF OPERATION
There are Single-Stage, Two-Stage and Modulating Variable Speed furnaces which provide various speeds and heat outputs. While Single-Stage can only be turned on and off, Two-Stage offers an additional half-speed for more control over your home’s temperature. Modulating furnaces can adjust heating output down to each minute, only working as much as you need it to.
Furnaces also provide the best air quality since its fan can continually circulate air through your home even when the heat isn’t running.
BETTER LEVEL OF PERFORMANCE
Offering various speed motors and advanced gas valves, furnaces offer better airflow to provide quick and consistent heat from room to room. Newer infiltration systems remove dust, mold and other impurities as it heats your home, so your family can breathe healthier while also enjoying very little to no operating noise from your system.
With a built-in system that removes moisture from inside, and an economical on-and-off cycling system, furnaces are designed to self-protect against damaging elements. They’re also built to withstand any chemical build up overtime. Plus, furnaces are widely available, so if you do need a replacement part, they’re easy to find.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR YOUR HOME
Some homeowners falsely believe the larger the furnace, the more it will heat their home. Oversized furnaces will cause spotty, uncomfortable heat and will expend extra energy warming up only to shut down before a full cycle is complete.
On the other hand, furnaces that are too small will be overworked trying to heat your home which can cause it to shut down completely. A trusted HVAC technician will be able to properly evaluate your home and recommend the best sized furnace for your situation.
KNOW YOUR DUCTWORK
A high-performing furnace can only function as well as the ductwork it uses. It’s a good idea to have an HVAC professional check your ductwork for any leaks or ruptures that allows heated air to escape into areas like attics or closets that don’t need to be heated. Damaged ductwork could be affecting the efficiency of your furnace, so before you assume you need a whole new system, be sure to check your ductwork first!
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT FURNACE MAINTENANCE, REPAIR AND INSTALLATION?
Have questions, or interested in installing a furnace in your home? The experts at Unique Indoor Comfort would love to help!