If you’re wondering how your heating units are providing heat around your house – meet the furnace. A furnace is where the heat is produced and is then circulated in your home via ducts, fans, and blowers that make up the entire HVAC system.
There are many types of furnaces, and they are classified depending on the kind of energy source used. The sort of energy source determines the type of heat transfer. Before you choose a new furnace for your home, make sure that you analyze which type of furnace is appropriate for your home. Though there are many factors to consider, such as efficiency or functionality, it all boils down to your budget and convenience.
Types of Furnaces
Gas Furnaces: As the name suggests — it uses natural gas as its primary energy source. It works by igniting the gas source, which in turn, ignites the burners, producing heat. The generated heat is then transferred to the air and circulated by ducts, fans, and blowers via the heat exchanger. Its efficiency is rated at 98% using the AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) ratio — the ratio of heat produced for every dollar of energy consumed. Gas furnaces are highly economical; however, only modern models can achieve such a high rating. This type of furnace has become the most popular type used in the USA.
Oil Furnaces: This type of furnace is commonly used at places with frigid climates because oil performs more efficiently in freezing temperatures as compared to natural gas. Considering everything ideal, the AFUE ratio of oil furnaces ranges from 80 – 90%. An oil furnace also has a lower upfront cost — usually 25% less than natural gas.
Electric Furnaces: This type of furnace is an excellent alternative if you don’t have access to a natural gas line. Electric furnaces are usually inexpensive to purchase upfront, which is generally 50% less than gas furnaces and is more compact as compared to the other two types, making it easy to install. They typically last up to 10 years. Despite being the cheapest and having an extended lifespan, the higher cost of electricity will incur additional expenses in the long run.
Propane Furnaces: Another great alternative if natural gas and oil are not readily available. Propane tanks fuel this type of furnace. Its downside, however, is that it’s less efficient.
Factors to Consider Before Buying a New Furnace
BTU Number of the Furnace: BTU number refers to the heat output of the furnace. The higher the number, the more heat it can produce. Larger homes need a considerable amount of heat to achieve a thermostat setting hence, requiring a furnace with high BTU numbers. The size of your home, climate, and overall volume of your home must be taken into consideration.
Climate and Region: Your location and climate determine what type of furnace is ideal for your home. A general rule of thumb is: if you’re living in a mild, temperate climate — the natural gas furnace is more efficient. An oil furnace is ideal for cold climates and, if you’re in a place with relatively lower electricity rates, an electric furnace is perfect.
Keep in mind that operation costs vary over time, depending on fuel and utility costs, usage, and situations experienced by each home. There also may be rebates and incentives available depending on state laws and provisions.