In the market for a new furnace?
So you’re in the market for a new furnace, but you’re not quite sure what features you should be looking for. To answer this, look within. Within your home that is.
The first, most obvious place to start is with the type of fuel you are using to heat your home. Do you currently have a gas, oil, or electric furnace? Most homes are heated with one of these. Now just because you have one of these types of furnaces, doesn’t mean you need to stick with it. With the cost of heating oil these days, and no real high efficiency options in the oil furnace category, you are probably better off switching to a heat pump system, and either keeping the oil as back up for temperatures below 35, or going heat pump with electric back up.
If you are currently heating your home with natural gas, you have many more options available to you. Gas furnaces of today range anywhere from 80% to 95% efficient, with some furnaces up in the 98% efficient range. What does this mean? An 80% efficient furnace will provide $8 worth of heat for every $10 of natural gas purchased. A 95% efficient furnace will provide $9.50 of heat for every $10 of natural gas. The fuel which is burned, but not converted to heat in the house is expelled as exhaust through a flue pipe. Over time, having a furnace that is providing you with an extra $1.50 worth of heat for every $10 spent will certainly pay off. Now that we’ve established efficiency ranges as far as fuel utilization, let’s focus on the function of the equipment. We provide service throughout the Willamette Valley of Oregon, from Portland to Corvallis. Our climate is fairly mild throughout the year, however we do experience some extreme temperatures in both the Summer and Winter. We have to size a system for these extremes, so that you can remain comfortable when you most need to be, but that means that majority of the time your system will be over sized. This means that the system will satisfy the set point on the thermostat much quicker than it should. That may seem like a good thing, but if the system doesn’t run long enough to evenly heat the home, then the thermostat will quickly be calling for the system to kick right back on. This continuous condition is known as short cycling. Short cycling will lead to unbalanced temperatures, higher utility costs, and a shorter life expectancy for the equipment. Some national surveys have determined that more than half of the systems in homes today are not properly sized, and the majority of those are over sized. So how do we solve this problem? First, we start by performing a load calculation on your home to determine what size system we need to install to heat and cool your home under design temperature load for our area. That is only part of the equation though, because design temperature in the Portland area is 24 degrees, so when the temperatures are more mild, the system would still be over sized. The load calculation though, at least gives us a baseline, and eliminates drastically over or under sizing. So in order to meet demands of the more extreme temperatures, but also maintain consistent temperatures throughout the home on more mild days, without short cycling, we introduce multi-stage equipment. Huh? There are furnaces available today that have two or more stages of heat they can operate at. Most two stage furnaces available can either deliver 100% capacity, or can scale back to around 65% capacity when the full force of the furnace is not needed. To take this a step further, Rheem has been manufacturing a modulating furnace for over ten years now. This furnace can deliver a range from 40% capacity to 100% in increments of 5%. This allows the furnace to always deliver just the right amount of heat to maintain temperature in the home. This makes for a very comfortable home, and a very payable utility bill. The other component to multi-stage furnaces to look for is a variable speed fan. These fans will vary the airflow based on the heat the furnace is delivering. If you run your fan constantly, or have air conditioning, the variable speed fan will drastically cut your electricity bill as well.
The variable speed fans operate at about 1/3 the cost of a standard, single speed fan. If you are heating your home with an electric furnace, then I would strongly recommend having a heat pump installed. The variable speed fans are available in electric furnaces as well, and when paired with a heat pump, can be the most efficient way to heat and cool a home in the Willamette Valley. The multi-stage technology is available in heat pumps as well. The compressor on a two stage heat pump is capable of operating at two different settings whether in heating or cooling mode. This makes for a very comfortable and efficient home year around. Ductless heat pumps have taken this to a whole other level with variable capacity compressors that have a very wide range of operation. If you currently heat with electric baseboard, cadet heat, or ceiling cable heat, then a ductless heat pump is a very cost effective way to drastically lower your utility costs. Ductless heat pumps have been known to cut utility costs nearly in half for people who heat with the aforementioned types of electric heat. They will also provide air conditioning, and since no ductwork is needed, they can usually be installed in one day.
The process of selecting a new furnace, and a contractor to install it can be a daunting task, so hopefully this information will help you choose. The bottom line is that the contractor should be helping to customize a system based on the features that are important to you. These conclusions can only be made by a series of questions and answers, so start thinking about what you would like to get out of a new system. It is no small investment, but if done right, can truly be an investment, and not just another cost. If you are located within our service territory in the Willamette Valley, please press the “Need Comfort” button below, fill out the online form, and we will contact you for your no cost comfort consultation. Or if you would prefer, just give us a call. Thank you!