Keep warm with a high efficiency gas furnace this winter!
Is there anything more comforting on a harsh cold day than your warm, cozy home? Heating is important not only for the comfort of you and your family but also for your home’s energy-efficiency and protection.
As a homeowner, you should have peace of mind knowing that your furnace is running as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Having a well maintained system also results in preventing costly furnace repair.
With a cost-effective and dependable gas furnace, you can rest-assured that your energy bills will be much lower and your heating system will require much less maintenance or repair. Your system will keep your home at the climate that is most comfortable for you and your family, so set your thermostat, and enjoy.
How Does A Gas Furnace Work?
A gas furnace uses combustion gases such as propane or natural gas. These gases are ignited by the burners and passed through the heat exchanger. The furnace fan blows the air from your home across the heat exchanger to be warmed. Then, the warm air is blown into your duct system to be distributed around your home.
Gas and Furnace Heating System Terms
- Understanding 80% and 90%-95% Efficiency Units: In an 80% efficient system, gasses are hot enough that they need to vent conventionally into the chimney stack. In a 90%-95% efficient system, the gasses are much cooler and vent to the outside via an exhaust vent, much like a clothes dryer.
- AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency): Indicated as a percentage, your furnace’s AFUE tells you how much energy is being converted to heat. For example, an AFUE of 90 means that 90% of the fuel is being used to warm your home, while the other 10% escapes as exhaust with the combustion gasses.
- Combustion Air: Combustion air is the air required to properly burn the gas for your heating system to get maximum capacity.
- Heat Exchanger: This is the part of a furnace that transfers heat to nearby air; the chamber where fossil fuel is burned. An improperly sized heater will cause expansion and contraction of the heat exchanger, which will lead to premature aging and cracks.
- Venting Types: Your new gas heater will vent the combustible gasses in one of two ways – via a direct vent system or into an existing chimney. In most cases, the chimney will need to be relined in order to generate the correct draft.
- Single-Stage Gas Valve: Single Stage Gas Valves operate on a basic on/off principle. Each time your themostat calls for heat, your heating system comes on at 100% capacity.
- Two-Stage Gas Valves: Two-Stage Gas Valves are capable of two levels of operation — a low stage and a high stage. Properly sized equipment will operate 60-70% of the time in low stage, enhancing energy efficiency and comfort with perfect humidity levels and quieter operation. It’s like getting two heaters in one.
- Standard Blower: A standard blower delivers a specified amount of air flow based on a tap setting.
- Variable-Speed Blower: This high-efficiency blower is designed to deliver a varying amount of air flow based on the desired outcome. These blowers increase the effectiveness of humidification, dehumidification, air filtration and balance of air flow.
Ready to Install/Replace or Repair Your Home Comfort System?
Let our friendly and experienced team of Comfort Consultants give you a free Home Comfort System Analysis which can include furnace diagnostics and repair assessment. They’ll study and discuss any concerns/problems that you may have with your current comfort system. They’ll review all system recommendation options and help you with finding the best home comfort system that meets all your family’s needs and budget. They will also assess and recommend any furnace repair that might be required.
Frequently Asked Gas Furnace Questions and Answers
How often should I have my gas furnace checked?
Annually. The Environmental Protection Agency states that it is very important to “have a trained professional inspect, clean and tune-up central heating systems annually, and repair any leaks promptly.” In addition, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) “urges consumers to have a professional inspection of all fuel-burning appliances to include furnaces and water heaters.”
How important is it to change my filter?
A clean filter allows good airflow that is critical to the efficient operation of any heating and air conditioning system. A clean, high efficient air filter will also protect the system from the harmful effect of dirt buildup on the vital components of the air handler or furnace. A high quality air filtration system also provides cleaner air in your home and ensures a higher level of comfort for you and your family.
What should I do if I smell gas?
Immediately evacuate yourself and any other persons/pets from inside the home and call your local gas utility and/or fire department alerting them of the situation.
Do I need to repair or replace my comfort system?
In making this decision, there are three factors to consider:
- Life Expectancy of Current System: The first thing to take into account is the age of your equipment. When your equipment breaks down, you may be tempted to go the immediate, least expensive route of repairing. However, should your equipment be getting up there in age, it is more likely that repairs will be frequent and it may actually be more cost efficient in the long run to replace the equipment instead of paying for many repairs…and then paying for the replacement.
- Operating Cost: As equipment ages, it becomes less and less efficient. Even six-year old heat pumps and air conditioners are considered grossly inefficient by today’s energy standards. Repairing your equipment may fix the immediate problem, but does not address energy efficiency so that needs to be factored into overall costs. Installing a new heating and cooling system can actually pay for itself in energy savings within a relatively short time.
- Looking at the Big Picture: Although you may be tempted to only address the broken down component, make sure to moniter all components of your system as they all work together to boost efficiency and reliability. For example, should you replace your furnace with a new model but leave the old thermostat and you are missing out on efficiencies of the newer furnace. In addition, you can save on installation costs if you upgrade several components at the same time.
Common mistakes made when replacing your comfort system?
Buying The Wrong Size Equipment: The Department of Energy states that a large percentage of people who replace their heating and air conditioning systems end up installing the wrong size equipment. The results are scary: high utility bills, buildup of unhealthy mold in the ductwork, damaged equipment and uncomfortable living conditions. This can easily be avoided by making sure you get an accurate load calculation from your contractor. The load calculation is determined by your home’s physical characteristics and takes into account your family’s personal needs. This, along with a detailed system analysis, will correctly verify the proper size equipment needed for your home.
Choosing the Lowest Price: If you get a bid that is significantly lower than the others, it’s probably too good to be true. It’s good to remember that sometimes, you get what you pay for. Essentially every contractor is installing the same heating and air conditioning equipment and in many cases the only difference is the name on the outside of the equipment…not the price of the equipment. Also, there are laws that regulate how systems are installed so when bids are lower, you are saving on installation costs vs. equipment costs. That begs the questions, are the technicians qualified? Are they taking any shortcuts? Are they leaving anything out? Are they cutting corners just to get the work?
Installation Delays: You shouldn’t have to wait days for a heating and air conditioning estimate or even longer to have your system installed. A lot of companies hire helpers or high school co-op students to work with mechanics. Because mechanics don’t specialize in installing any particular type of system and they lack support, installations can be delayed.
Using Untrustworthy and Unqualified Contractors:: Choosing the right contractor can mean the difference between having a horribly expensive experience you’ll never forget and an experience you can’t wait to share with friends and family. Here are some steps to take to make sure you choose the right contractor for you:
- Research. Doing a little homework on the work to be performed will set you up for success in choosing the right contractor for your job. You don’t need to become a technical expert, but a little research will help you ask the right questions and be able to assess the contractor’s answers and experience.
- Get 3 – 4 contractor referrals from people you know and trust. Referrals from the people you know and have had hands on experience from the contractor goes a lot further than references from people you don’t know. You are more likely to get both positive and negative feedback from people you know.
- After identifying a few prospects, make sure each prospect is located locally and has a physical address. Then, call the Better Business Bureau to verify the company information.
- Interview contractors. Make sure you take time to meet with each contractor and go through your list of questions.
Not Getting a Written Guarantee: Make sure the contractor you choose stands behind the products and services they offer. If they don’t provide you with a written no-hassle, no-questions asked warranty you may not want to use them. You need to make sure the you and your family are protected from any unforeseen breakdowns. Also make sure the guarantee includes a performance guarantee, investment guarantee and a real 100% satisfaction guarantee.