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Buying a heating system for your home may well be one of the most expensive investments you will make as a homeowner. With price tags ranging from $3,000 to over $8,000, a new furnace can cost significantly more than other household appliances. On the other hand, upgrading to a quality, energy-efficient furnace can save you a significant percentage on your electricity bill! With this in mind, it makes sense to consider your options carefully before you commit to a purchase that has the potential to either be a headache or a significant source of savings over the future of your home. Let’s talk a little bit about furnace basics, and then discover how you can choose the best possible option for your budget and your home.

Furnaces are not all created alike, but they all start with the same basic concept. The major component of your home-heating system is your furnace (also known as the heater or the boiler)which works to provide you with heated air, hot water, and/or steam to warm your home. It can be fueled by wood or coal (though this is not as common), or by natural gas.

With the basics out of the way, let’s look at some more specific aspects of heating systems, and see how different features affect the performance of your furnace.

  • Know what heating-related abbreviations mean. You may come across the abbreviation AFUE, which stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. This is just what it sounds like: an estimation of how efficiently a furnace uses fuel. Obviously this number is important, because higher efficiency translates into less fuel used, which of course means a lower cost for you, the consumer! In general, the larger the AFUE number, the better for your furnace and for your wallet. (It may be useful to note that for furnaces using natural gas or propane, the minimum AFUE required is 95 percent; for fuel oil furnaces and boilers, the minimum is 90 percent.)
  • Protect yourself by choosing a safer furnace!An important safety feature you will want is sealed combustion. This means that the burner on your furnace is sealed off from the air in your home, protecting you and your family from the dangers of inhaling carbon monoxide!
  • A better design will save you money. For example, choosing a model with a variable-speed fan will prevent needless waste of energy (and ultimately money), by avoiding uneven heating and noisy ducts, which can be caused by poor fan quality or design. A variable-speed fan will eliminate these potential energy-drains, although you will need to check with your contractor to make sure that your current duct-work is compatible with a variable-speed fan.

The next thing to consider is whether or not a particular Bryant furnace will be compatible with the one you currently have. It’s important to choose a furnace that matches up with your present heating system. For example, if your current heating system uses hot water to heat your home, your new furnace will need to include a hot-water system as well. The size of your current furnace also matters. In general, unless the furnace you are currently using is too small to effectively heat your home, you should stick with a furnace that is approximately the same size. To determine this, you can get in touch with your HVAC contractor, who can tell you what size furnace is required for your particular heating system and home. Just remember that choosing a furnace without considering compatibility will likely result in wasting valuable time and money. Do your research first!Choosing a Quality Furnace for YourHome

We’ve mentioned the importance of furnace efficiency already. It’s worth revisiting in more detail, because the efficiency of your furnace will be the number-one determinant in how much money you will save by installing a new furnace. Though the initial cost of a higher-efficiency furnace may seem prohibitive, calculations show that there can be as much as a $300 difference in yearly savings between high-efficiency models and mid-efficiency models. This adds up to $6,000 over the typical 20-year life span of a furnace! So in the long run, you may find you will save significantly more money by choosing a higher-efficiency furnace than by buying a cheaper but less efficient model. Again, your HVAC contractor can provide valuable recommendations as to what higher-efficiency models will work well with your current heating system.

Two more things are worth considering when shopping for a new furnace. First, the heating capacity of a new furnace is every bit as important as its efficiency. The reason for this is that heating capacity operates independently of energy efficiency. Simply put, if your home includes large rooms, a high-capacity furnace will be even more important than a high-efficiency furnace. Saving money with a high-efficiency furnace is nice, but if the capacity of your furnace is insufficient to heat your home well, those savings will provide small comfort against the encroaching cold!

The second and last point to consider is that you will actually be buying two items, not one: a new furnace and the installation. A good furnace, improperly installed, will never provide the quality heating that it should; and even the best possible installation will not make up for a poor-quality furnace! They come as a package deal (and usually are installed as a package deal as well), so the second half to your purchase of a furnaceis to make sure that you have the right contractor to install it for you. Not only should you get bids from several contractors and compare what they offer, but you should check the qualifications of individual contractors as well. If you can get a North American Technician Excellence (NATE)-certified technician to install it, you can be sure that you will get the services of a quality technician, as NATE requires the ongoing training and recertification of technicians to keep skills current. You can also ask if a contractor uses the ACCA (Air Conditioning Contractors of America) Standards for Quality Installation. Contractors operating under this high standard are required to double-check and document that all the proper steps are taken to ensurea quality installation. These include a check on furnace size, operations controls testing, proper operation after installation, sealed combustion, and compatibility with your current system. The contractor will also give you information on how to properly maintain your new furnace after it is installed.

As you face the somewhat-daunting task of shopping for a new furnace, think in terms of long-term benefits and stay positive! Choosing the right furnace will save you from the headache of high electricity bills, an inefficiently-heated home, and other frustrations. So equip yourself with the best possible information before you head out, and then relax, knowing that you will be making an important and long-lasting investment in the value and comfort of your home!

Author Bio:
Shabanapiarimi is a professional Web copywriter. She specializes in several niches including travel, fashion, beauty, health, fitness, lifestyle and small business. Karimi has an educational background in business administration and marketing from the Oxford University.

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