Purchasing a new furnace may not be a priority right away. But it’s smart to know the things that will likely influence your choice when you’re ready to buy. Here are seven things you’ll want to think about when you're due for furnace replacement in Austin.
1. Size and Installation Quality
To run at peak efficiency and comfort, your furnace must be correctly sized for your home. When it comes to furnaces, bigger is certainly not better. We often get requests from customers to install a big furnace in the misguided belief that a larger furnace is either more dependable or will provide better comfort.
The reverse is true. Large furnaces will short cycle, or continuously turn on and off. This leaves you cold, with higher energy bills and a furnace that could wear out much sooner.
This is why it’s crucial to work with the right company when buying a new furnace. Even if it’s the correct size but installed wrong, the U.S. Department of Energy says you could lose as much as 30% of your energy efficiency.
Another crucial component of installation is ductwork. If yours is old or designed wrong, you might have issues with noise or comfort. A furnace is only as good as the duct system it’s linked to.
At Strand Brothers Service Experts, our Expert HVAC technicians are ACE certified, which means they’re knowledgeable about repairing and installing various kinds of home comfort systems. Besides technical skill, our technicians are also trained in treating you ethically. We also stand behind our work with a 100% satisfaction guarantee for a year.*
2. Energy Efficiency
Furnaces are rated by a term known as AFUE, or annual fuel utilization efficiency. Like miles per gallon on cars, this rates the annual gas consumption of a furnace. The higher the number, the less gas is spent during the heating process.
If your present furnace is 15 years old, it’s likely rated well below 80 AFUE. As an example, if your HVAC system is 70 AFUE, you’re throwing away up to 30 cents of each dollar you spend on heating.
Here’s how AFUE ratings work today:
- 80 AFUE—minimum efficiency rating in the U.S. and Canada.
- 90 AFUE—ENERGY STAR® rating for furnaces in the U.S. South.
- 95 AFUE—ENERGY STAR® rating for furnaces in the U.S. North and Canada.
- 98 AFUE—best efficiency rating available.
3. Blower Motor Technology
As you research new furnaces there is one more important consideration: blower technology. This part moves air throughout your home. And it also consumes a lot of electricity, so it’s essential to know about your options.
There are three types of blowers available on furnaces nowadays. They include:
- Standard blower motor. Furnaces that aren’t ENERGY STAR rated have a traditional blower motor that’s been mostly the same for the past 30 years. This motor is the least expensive and also the least energy efficient.
- Constant torque motor. This technology strikes a balance between cost and energy efficiency. It delivers an electrical efficiency boost over a standard motor design.
- Variable-speed motor. The most energy-efficient furnaces can run at different speeds. Instead of operating at full speed 24/7, they will quietly operate at a low or medium speed at times. This helps enhance your comfort while keeping energy costs down, both in the winter and summer. And it also keeps indoor humidity under control.
4. Sound Reduction Technology
Sound has become a very significant consideration with furnace installation, so another dramatic improvement has been noise management. Some of these features include:
- Sealed and insulated cabinets
- Variable-speed blower technology
- Whisper-quiet gas burners
With this technology, you might not even be aware that your furnace is on.
5. Smart Thermostat
You probably have a programmable thermostat, but chances are you probably aren’t maximizing your energy savings. These thermostats can be complicated to program, particularly if your schedule varies from day to day.
A smart thermostat removes all the guessing about energy efficiency. Many models can pick up on your temperature preferences and then create an energy-saving schedule to match. They also know when you’re home or away and will adjust your heating and cooling as needed.
As an extra perk, you’ll also be able to keep tabs on and change your settings from just about anyplace on your phone. Some models can even alert you if they find a problem with your furnace or remind you when it’s time to change your air filter.
There’s a major difference in furnace quality and reliability. Like any big purchase, we believe it’s best to go with a major brand name. With a top brand like Lennox® or Goodman®, you’ll have more assurance in the technology and that the manufacturer will uphold its product warranty over the long haul.
Furnaces usually have two primary warranty coverage areas:
- Heat exchanger. This is the heart of the furnace and the most expensive component to replace. This part typically has a 20-year limited warranty or lifetime limited warranty, but this can vary based on the manufacturer and furnace model.
- Main components. This involves the blower motor, electronic controls, ignitors and other important parts. Warranties can vary from as little as a one-year limited warranty to as much as a 10-year limited warranty.
When reviewing warranty coverage, it’s essential to know it's limited. So, you should make sure you get the limitations. For instance, nearly all standard manufacturer warranties only include the cost of the replacement part, not labor. And labor on a new heat exchanger could get costly.
Once your new furnace is installed, make sure you finish the product registration right away. Many manufacturers may reduce the warranty term if the product registration is not done. This step is easy and usually only takes a few minutes.
How much does all this cost anyhow? It could vary from $1,700 for a basic furnace, or $5,500 or more for a high-efficiency system.
As you think about these costs and the affect on your budget, keep in mind that unlike nearly every other appliance you may need to buy, your new furnace may help pay for itself from the monthly energy savings it provides.
A couple of other ways to save include:
- Getting a new air conditioner at the same time.
- Purchasing at the right time, such as in early fall, mid-winter and early spring. You may be able to get additional discounts and rebates during this slower season.
- Reap the benefits of rebates from the federal and state government, as well as from your local utility company. We can help you figure out this process.
- Finance your new furnace or sign up for our exclusive HVAC Advantage Program™. For just one low monthly fee, you’ll get a new furnace with repairs and maintenance included.*
How Do I Know When to Replace My Furnace?
Now that you know what to search for in a new furnace, when should you replace your old one? Here are a few tips from our Experts that will help you make that decision.
Heating systems typically last 15–20 years. How long yours will last depends on whether you’ve kept up with furnace maintenance, where you live and your temperature preferences. If you’re somewhere with harsh winters, your furnace will run more often, potentially making it wear out sooner. The same goes if you like to keep your home at a hotter temperature.
Repair Frequency and Cost
Just like any appliance, as furnaces age, the potential for frequent furnace repair increases. If your system is more than 15 years old, those repairs can be particularly costly. Common and costly repairs on an older furnace include:
- Blower motor failures
- Ignition control failures
- Heat exchanger failures
If repairs are more than the half the cost of a new furnace, it’s generally best to replace it.
Furnaces older than 15 years can be extremely inefficient. You could be wasting as much as 30% of the money you spend to heat your home. High energy costs and the desire to reduce energy consumption are also strong reasons to consider replacing your furnace. In fact, an independent study by Decision Analyst reveals nearly 20% of homeowners who recently replaced their furnace specifically did so to reduce their energy bills.
Trust Your Furnace Replacement to the Experts
It can seem overwhelming trying to investigate furnace features on your own. Or know exactly when you should replace your furnace. Our Strand Brothers Service Experts Experts are here to make the process much simpler. Contact us at 512-592-3072 or schedule an appointment online to book your free home comfort assessment now.
*For HVAC Service Memberships, certain warranty exclusions and limitations apply. See your signed agreement for full terms and conditions. For the Advantage Program™, please see your signed Advantage Program Agreement for full details and exclusions. Lease with approved credit; visit ServiceExperts.com for details.