There is critical information about heating and cooling equipment that everyone needs to be aware of before you buy that new furnace. These are things that will affect your happiness with your heating equipment after the installation.
There is a parallel between buying a car and a furnace, they both have about the same lifespan and it's true that maintained equipment lasts longer. But there is another parrallel to car buying and that is the purchasing process, specifically when you pick your options.
On a personal note, back in my early car buying days when I was looking to buy my first new car the price scared me, so I tried to go as inexpensive as possible on all of the options. The sales guy asked me if I wanted air conditioning, I initially said no, because of the cost. In your 20's it may as well cost a million dollars. I took my friend along and she convinced me to get AC. I lived in New Jersey at the time (those summers can be brutal) so I hesitated and then agreed. Every hot day I got into that car and turned on the AC I remembered that decision and it made me smile. I had that car for a long time. I did the math one day and the AC over that period of time was close to $9 a month - worth every penny.
An earlier version of my first car courtesy Ebay images... 1980 Press Photo
You really need to look at the furnace purchase in the same light. You will have this equipment for a long time, it will be responsible for a comfortable Christmas and (hopefully) a good night's sleep. It can change the feel of your home and depending on the choices it can be a change for the better. Unfortunately, you can't sell it easily if you make a bad choice like you can a car, so maybe it would be prudent to sit yourself down and think about what you like and then what you dislike about your heating and cooling equipment as the first step. Seek solutions with a tempologist contractor to resolve some of your comfort or temperature issues, then choose solutions to these issues, of course remember to match the positive aspects of your current equipment. The purpose of this article is to help you make the right decision.
Sound: Sometimes we get so used to how our homes work that we don't even know that there is a sound problem - until it is brought to our attention. For years, I used the remote control for my TV volume when my heater came on and off. I had no idea that the furnace was as loud as it was until I bought a high efficiency furnace with a variable speed motor. It was not only quiet but this fan removed hot and cold spots in my home and it did it by using about 50% less energy. Now I am so much more content watching television with the quieter furnace. By the way I was always so wrapped up in a blanket because the couch was near a large window, with this furnace and fan it is now comfortable no matter how cold it gets outside. Good riddens to the old furnace was so disruptive that kept me up at night, with my new furnace I often have to place my hand on the register to see if it is on.
Energy Efficiency: Today's furnaces can be ultra efficient. We install a lot of furnaces and at one time it was standard only but now we install a little more energy efficient units than the standard efficient units. Many of our customers that choose energy efficient equipment choose to install an ultra efficient 98% natural gas efficient furnace, especially those that not only want to lower heating bills but to also reduced their carbon footprint. Out of every dollar of natural gas that goes into their furnace, only 2% goes up the flue, compare that to some of the furnaces outthere that use just 40-70% of the natural gas and 30 to 70 cents goes up the flue.
What you may need to be aware of is that these furnaces have a PVC flue to exhaust the unit. This is because the energy efficient engineering in these models yield more water rather than exhaust and the temperature of the output is much lower than the standard efficient furnace. This plastic PVC pipe typically fits where the old metal flue was located or in some cases it can even vent out horizontally. The old metal furnace flue would rust out. Another aspect of this condensing furnace aside from the new flue is the condensate drains to eliminate the water from the furnace. These typically drain into a pvc line and routed out of the home and into a sanitary drain, garden or drywell. For attic installations it can be routed down the side of the home for drainage.
Standard energy efficient units are the lowest efficiency you can install in California today, these are 80% efficient. Any unit below the 80% does not comply with today's standards. In homes all over the country even today we find old (over 15years old) and very old (over 20+ years old) equipment. This equipment should be considered for replacement, not just because of the wasted energy but because at some point they become a carbon dioxide danger and a combustion danger. Call a furnace contractor for a safety inspection if there is any doubt that your furnace is unsafe and ask that they perform a safety inspection.
Dual Fuel: With renewable energy on the rise, more and more people are looking to solar energy to heat and cool their homes. When using solar sometimes the weather is too cold for to keep the home at a comfortable temperature. For those with solar we often reccommend a dual fuel option. This way the homeowner can take advantage of solar (electric) and propane or natural gas when the weather gets too cold for electric only heating.
Energy Efficient Thermostat: Another change since you shopped for furnaces may be the energy efficient thermostat. Some have programmable timers and yet others communicate with the furnace or air conditioner to tell it what to do. The communicating thermostat is a learning furnace and it learns the requirements of heating and cooling your specific home.
The energy efficient thermostat is also able to be programmed easily. There are very specific places that a thermostat needs to be located. A thermostat that isn't installed correctly can be a problem and cause either an uncomfortable living environment (too hot or too cold) or the furnace can cycle on and off too often prematurely wearing it out. The programmable thermostat is one of the easiest ways to cut your energy bills because it regulates the furnace and air conditioning according to our daily schedules. There is also a wireless option for the programmable thermostat avoiding the need to run the extra wires needed for the newer thermostats or furnaces. These are great options, but there is one more, the Internet thermostat, where you can remotely control the temperature in your home even if you are not there. This is great for persons in the home not able to operate the thermostat.
These are all things that you should be aware of before buying that new furnace. Remember this is a long term purchase, so buy what you want to make your home comfortable.
If you are in the San Jose area feel free to schedule a time for a tempologist to explain these options to you to get the most comfortable home you never had.
If you need help with temperature, contact Cold Craft, Inc.
408.374.7292 or INFO@COLDCRAFT.COM