Everyone likes to feel comfortable in their own home. With the arrival of fall, thoughts turn to preparing for winter. And in Canada, winter means heating. In this interview, an expert from the Master Group shares advice on how to choose a new furnace for your home.
What is the best time of year to buy a new furnace?
There is no ideal time during the year to change a heating system. Heating systems are often replaced because of a major breakdown. A service plan may well avoid this expense or at least prepare you for it. But, to prevent installation delays, it is best to avoid shopping for a furnace during severely cold temperatures or, if you're thinking ahead, during a heat wave.
What do I need to do before making a choice?
You need to determine which energy source to use. Other factors to consider are your heating needs, the system capacity required for your home, and the manufacturer's warranty. Always work with a certified HVAC company.
What types of furnaces are available on the market?
Several options are available depending on the chosen source of energy:
- Electric (with or without a heat pump)
- Natural gas
- Propane (with or without a heat pump)
- Oil (with or without a heat pump)
A certified dealer will be able to suggest the right product to meet your exact needs. For example, taking into consideration your budget and your heating needs, a certified dealer can tell you if you should choose a single stage, a 2-stage, or a variable speed furnace.
What are the pros and cons of a gas furnace?
There are no cons to using natural or propane gas as a principal energy source. The new generation of gas furnaces now offer over 95% energy efficiency and they're available in all three types: single stage, 2-stage, and modulating (or variable speed).
There are several pros to using a gas furnace, mainly for the energy performance of high efficiency models. What's more, there is always the possibility of supplementing the system with accessories that improve air quality such as humidifiers, high efficiency filters, or UV lamps.
What are the pros and cons of an electric furnace?
There are no cons to using electricity as a principal energy source.
There are many advantages to using an electric furnace with ventilation ductwork. And, as with gas models, you can add accessories to improve air quality, such as humidifiers, high efficiency filters, or UV lamps.
Often, when converting propane or oil to electricity, an update of the electrical panel is required.
What does SEER mean, and what is the AFUE rating?
The AFUE rating (Annualized Fuel Utilization Efficiency) is a measure of your furnace's heating efficiency. The higher the AFUE percentage, the more efficient the furnace.
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, a measure that evaluates the energy consumed by a unit compared to the energy released. The higher the SEER, the better the energy performance. A high efficiency unit consumes less electricity as a regular furnace of the same capacity.
Is it really advantageous to buy ENERGY STAR products?
It is always better to purchase ENERGY STAR certified products because they use less energy than other products. It is even more advantageous to purchase a product designated “ENERGY STAR Most Efficient” because they are the most energy efficient models among all ENERGY STAR certified products for the current calendar year.
Are there any financial assistance programs to reduce purchase or installation costs?
Government agencies and energy distributors do offer financial assistance programs, but these vary from one province to another. It is best to contact these agencies or visit their websites to learn more about the programs they offer.
Is maintenance of a furnace required? What does it involve?
To ensure optimal efficiency of your heating system and to avoid breakdowns due to malfunction of a component, it is highly recommended to have a contract for an annual maintenance program with an industry professional. During the service visit, the technician will conduct a thorough inspection of the system and its components.
We hope this Q&A helps you on your mission to purchase a new furnace for your home!
By Judith Brown