Now that cooler weather is here, homeowners are advised to evaluate their furnace to see if it needs to be serviced or replaced. By planning ahead, you can potentially save money on heating bills or dodge a breakdown in the middle of a cold snap. According to the experts at Carrier, here’s what you need to know about your home’s heat source:
Maintaining Your Furnace: Undue strain can shorten the lifespan of your furnace. Regularly replace the air filter as recommended by the manufacturer; dirty, clogged filters can restrict airflow, making the furnace work harder and longer hours.
An annual furnace tune-up from a heating and ventilation professional can also go a long way towards minimizing issues caused by dirt and debris buildup. What’s more, inspections allow your contractor to monitor longer-term issues and take proactive steps to help prevent premature failure or inconvenient breakdowns during the heating season.
Keeping your home properly insulated and sealed can also help by preventing thermal loss and cold air infiltration and may reduce heating bills this winter. Finally, maintain thermostat settings at Department of Energy recommendations or try a degree or two lower.
Replacing Your Furnace: Regardless of how well the furnace is made and how well you maintain it, the day will come when it’s reached the end of its usefulness. You’ll know it’s time to replace your furnace when you’re making frequent service calls, dealing with expensive repair bills, or when your unit is blowing cold air, making unusual noises or not operating as efficiently as it once did.
In a challenging economy, it can be tempting to buy the cheapest model, however a furnace replacement is a decision that can affect your family’s comfort and energy bills for years. So how do you make a sound choice?
There are many types of heart sources for your house, including gas furnaces, electric heat pumps and newer variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems. Your easiest, and probably least costly path, will be picking a furnace that uses the same fuel source as your current one.
If energy efficiency is a priority, you’re in luck. Comparison shopping is easy today, as all furnaces sold domestically are required to display estimated annual operating costs on the EnergyGuide label. Beyond reduced energy bills, federal tax credits for high efficiency equipment have been extended into 2023. Check with your utility company or manufacturer to see if they offer a rebate. All combustion-type furnaces are rated according to annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). The minimum allowed rating for any furnace in the United States is 80 percent, however, some of the most efficient models available go well beyond that.
Another factor to consider is heating capacity. Improperly sized furnaces can result in loss of comfort, loss of efficiency and even reduce the lifespan of the furnace. Be sure to have a qualified heating and ventilation professional assess your square footage, number and quality of windows, insulation and other factors to make a recommendation.
Beyond the basics, today’s furnaces offer new comfort-enhancing, energy-saving features that could help you reduce your heating costs. Take steps now to ensure you’re set for a cozy, comfortable winter season.