Comprehensive Guide to Heat Pumps: Operation, Types, & Benefits
May 25, 2022
September 10, 2023
Are you considering installing a new furnace in your home in 2023? With so many furnace options on the market, it can be overwhelming trying to determine which type of furnace is right for your home's heating needs and budget. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the key factors to consider when buying a new gas, oil or propane furnace this year.
We'll cover the different types of home furnaces, efficiency ratings, features, installation costs, sizing, fuel types and top brands. You'll finish reading with all the information you need to make an informed decision when purchasing a new forced air furnace system. Let's get started!
There are several reasons you may want to replace an aging or faulty furnace with a new model:
If your current furnace is over 12-20 years old, upgrading to a new high-efficiency model can pay for itself over time through utility savings, rebates, and improved performance.
As you shop for a new home furnace, keep these key factors in mind:
Fuel Source - Natural gas is the most popular option due to lower costs. Oil and propane furnaces are also available.
Efficiency Rating - Look for an AFUE of 90% or higher for maximum savings.
Capacity - Match the furnace output to the size of your home for ideal heating and efficiency.
Features - Variable-speed motors, multi-stage operation, humidity control and smart technology.
Brand Reputation & Warranty - Choose an established brand that offers at least a 10 year warranty on parts.
Professional Installation - Proper sizing, setup and ductwork modifications are critical.
Always consult an HVAC expert to assess your home and recommend the best new furnace model to meet your needs and budget.
There are a few main configurations and designs of residential furnaces:
Natural gas furnaces are the most common type found in homes today. They are powered by natural gas supplied from utility gas lines. They have variable speed furnace fans and more efficient heat exchanger that provides even temperatures.
Pros: Low operating costs, steady gas supply, higher AFUE ratings available
Cons: Require gas line, venting and installation
Natural gas models provide the best value for most homeowners due to relatively low natural gas prices. High-efficiency gas furnaces with AFUE ratings of 90-98% save the most on heating costs over older models.
Oil furnaces are less common, found in areas without natural gas. They burn heating oil stored in an on-site tank. They are usually single stage furnaces and expensive to repair.
Pros: Provide heat if natural gas is unavailable
Cons: More expensive to operate, tank maintenance required
While not as efficient and cost-effective as natural gas, oil furnaces can still effectively heat homes. Look for high AFUE ratings of 85% or more while replacing your furnace.
Propane furnaces operate similarly to natural gas models but use propane gas from a tank instead of a utility line.
Pros: Useful for rural homes without natural gas access
Cons: Propane is more expensive than gas
Propane heating costs about 1.5 times more than gas. However, propane furnaces can still be cost-effective options for heating homes not connected to natural gas lines.
The least common furnace type uses electric heating elements instead of gas combustion.
Pros: No combustion or gas lines/vents needed
Cons: Very expensive to operate, lower heating capacity
Due to high electricity rates, electric furnaces usually cost 3-4 times more to run than gas. They are generally only used as backup systems in milder climates.
Modern home furnaces offer features that improve efficiency, airflow, comfort and convenience:
Your contractor will help select features to best suit your home heating needs and comfort preferences.
AFUE stands for “Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency.” This percentage rating measures how efficiently a furnace converts fuel to heat.
The higher the AFUE, the more heat is produced per unit of fuel for greater energy savings.Minimum ratings set by the Department of Energy are:
However, it's recommended to choose models with 90% AFUE or higher. Furnaces with AFUE ratings of 95-98% are considered the most efficient and cost effective.
Higher AFUE ratings translate into lower monthly heating bills over the 15-20 year lifespan of a new high-efficiency furnace.
Furnace costs are based on:
Total Cost Range - $4500 - $10000+ depending on the above factors.
However, don't just choose the cheapest furnace. Consider energy savings, warranties, and ideal performance for your home's heating needs.
Many homeowners can qualify for sizable rebates of $300 - $1000 when they purchase and install an eligible high-efficiency furnace. Contact Simply Smart Home to ask about available utilities and government incentives that may lower your up-front costs.
Proper sizing of your new furnace is crucial for comfort, efficiency, and avoiding issues like short-cycling. A unit that's too large will cause excess power consumption and humidity problems.
Incorrectly sized ductwork can also reduce furnace performance. Your HVAC contractor will calculate the ideal furnace output BTUs needed for your home's size and layout.
The furnace capacity must be large enough to deliver sufficient warm air to reach all intended rooms through the existing ducts. An experienced professional should handle the sizing calculations that is right for your home.
These major brands are recognized for their quality and reliability in home furnace systems:
Stick to purchasing major national brands rather than cheap off-brands that may lack support or spare parts down the road.
Installing a new forced-air furnace requires expertise to:
Installing a new forced-air furnace requires expertise to properly size the furnace, modify ductwork, install gas lines and vents, adjust airflow, and more. Only hire trained and licensed HVAC technicians to install your new furnace. This ensures the job is done right the first time for safe, reliable and efficient operation. Get a quote from Simply Smart Home to ensure the best prices. We offer some of the best warranties to extend the life of the furnace and keep it running reliably for years to come.
Efficiency Comparison Furnaces and heat pumps are two common types of heating systems used in homes. While they both serve the same purpose of heating the home, there are some key differences between the two.
1. Operation: A furnace works by burning fuel, such as gas or oil, to generate heat. The heat is then distributed throughout the home via ductwork and forced air. On the other hand, a heat pump uses electricity to transfer heat from the outside air or the ground to the inside of the home.
2. Efficiency: Heat pumps are more energy-efficient than furnaces. They can produce up to three units of heat for every unit of electricity used, making them a more cost-effective option in moderate climates. Furnaces, on the other hand, have an efficiency rating called the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE), which indicates the percentage of fuel that is converted into usable heat. Higher AFUE ratings indicate greater efficiency.
3. Cooling Capability: Heat pumps have the added advantage of being able to provide both heating and cooling. During the warmer months, they can operate in reverse, extracting heat from the inside of the home and transferring it outside, effectively cooling the home. Furnaces do not have this cooling capability and require a separate air conditioning system for cooling.
4. Climate Suitability: Heat pumps are more suitable for moderate climates where temperatures rarely drop below freezing. In colder climates, a heat pump furnace combine with is the right solution to heat your home.
5. Cost: The initial cost of purchasing and installing a heat pump is generally higher than that of a furnace. However, the energy savings offered by heat pumps can offset the higher upfront cost over time. Additionally, heat pumps are eligible for rebates, further reducing the overall cost. They significantly reduce utility costs as Ontario is taking steps to reduce the cost of electricity.
Ultimately, the choice between a furnace and a heat pump depends on factors such as climate, duct systems, energy costs, home needs, and personal preferences. It is recommended to consult with Simply Smart Home professional to determine the best option for your specific needs.
Replacing an old furnace with a new higher efficiency model improves your home's comfort while saving on energy costs. With the furnace buying guidance above, you can make the right choice for your heating needs in 2023.
Aman is an experienced home improvement writer with a passion for energy efficiency and smart home technologies. He is dedicated to helping homeowners adopt sustainable practices that enhance their daily lives while reducing their environmental impact.