Purchasing a new furnace may not be a priority in the immediate future. But it’s smart to know the things that will likely impact your choice when you’re ready to buy. Here are seven things you’ll want to consider when you're due for furnace replacement in Houston.
1. Size and Installation Quality
To operate at peak efficiency and comfort, your furnace must be correctly sized for your home. When it comes to furnaces, bigger is certainly not better. We frequently get requests from customers to purchase a big furnace in the misguided belief that a larger furnace is either more reliable or will offer better comfort.
The reverse is true. Oversized furnaces will short cycle, or continuously turn on and off. This leaves you uncomfortable, with higher energy bills and a furnace that could wear out much sooner.
This is why it’s crucial to work with the right company when buying a new furnace. Even if it’s the correct size but installed wrong, the U.S. Department of Energy says you could forfeit as much as 30% of your energy efficiency.
Another crucial component of installation is ductwork. If yours is old or improperly designed, you might have issues with sound or comfort. A furnace is only as good as the duct system it’s linked to.
At Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, our Expert HVAC technicians are ACE certified, which means they’re knowledgeable about repairing and installing various kinds of home comfort systems. In addition to technical skill, our technicians are also trained in treating you fairly. We also stand behind our work with a 100% satisfaction guarantee for a year.*
2. Energy Efficiency
Furnaces are ranked by a term known as AFUE, or annual fuel utilization efficiency. Like miles per gallon on cars, this rates the annual gas consumption of a furnace. The higher the number, the less gas is wasted during the heating process.
If your current furnace is 15 years old, it’s likely rated well below 80 AFUE. As an example, if your HVAC system is 70 AFUE, you’re throwing away up to 30 cents of each dollar you spend on heating.
Here’s how AFUE ratings work today:
- 80 AFUE—minimum efficiency rating in the U.S. and Canada.
- 90 AFUE—ENERGY STAR® rating for furnaces in the U.S. South.
- 95 AFUE—ENERGY STAR® rating for furnaces in the U.S. North and Canada.
- 98 AFUE—highest efficiency rating available.
3. Blower Motor Technology
As you evaluate new furnaces there is one more important consideration: blower technology. This part circulates air throughout your home. And it also uses a lot of electricity, so it’s essential to know about your options.
There are three kinds of blowers available on furnaces today. They include:
- Standard blower motor. Furnaces that aren’t ENERGY STAR rated have a standard blower motor that’s been mostly unchanged for the past 30 years. This motor is the least expensive and also the least energy efficient.
- Constant torque motor. This technology strikes a balance between cost and energy efficiency. It delivers an electrical efficiency boost over a standard motor design.
- Variable-speed motor. The most energy-efficient furnaces can operate at different speeds. Instead of running at full speed 24/7, they will quietly operate at a low or medium speed at times. This helps enhance your comfort while keeping energy costs low, both in the winter and summer. And it also keeps indoor humidity in check.
4. Sound Reduction Technology
Sound has become a very significant consideration with furnace installation, so another great improvement has been keeping noise under control. Some of these features include:
- Sealed and insulated cabinets
- Variable-speed blower technology
- Nearly silent gas burners
With this technology, you might not even notice that your furnace is on.
5. Smart Thermostat
You probably have a programmable thermostat, but chances are you probably aren’t making the most of your energy savings. These thermostats can be difficult to program, particularly if your schedule changes from day to day.
A smart thermostat removes all the guesswork about energy efficiency. Many models can pick up on your temperature preferences and then create an energy-saving schedule to match. They also know when you’re home or away and will adjust your heating and cooling as necessary.
As an extra perk, you’ll also be able to monitor and adjust your settings from just about anyplace on your phone. Some models can even alert you if they detect a problem with your furnace or remind you when it’s time to change your air filter.
There’s a significant difference in furnace quality and reliability. Like any big purchase, we believe it’s wisest to go with a major brand name. With a top brand like Lennox® or Goodman®, you’ll have more assurance in the technology and that the manufacturer will uphold its product warranty over the long term.
Furnaces usually have two main warranty coverage areas:
- Heat exchanger. This is the heart of the furnace and the most expensive component to replace. This part typically has a 20-year limited warranty or lifetime limited warranty, but this can vary based on the manufacturer and furnace model.
- Main components. This involves the blower motor, electronic controls, ignitors and other key parts. Warranties can range from as short as a one-year limited warranty to as much as a 10-year limited warranty.
When reviewing warranty coverage, it’s important to know it's limited. So, you should make sure you understand the limitations. For example, nearly all standard manufacturer warranties only cover the price of the replacement part, not labor. And labor on a new heat exchanger could get very expensive.
Once your new furnace is running, make sure you complete the product registration immediately. Many manufacturers may reduce the warranty term if the product registration is not completed. This step is simple and usually only takes a few minutes.
How much does all this cost anyhow? It could range from $1,700 for a basic furnace, or $5,500 or more for a high-efficiency model.
As you think about these costs and the impact to your budget, keep in mind that unlike nearly every other appliance you may need to buy, your new furnace may help pay for itself from the monthly energy savings it offers.
A couple of additional ways to save include:
- Replacing your air conditioner at the same time.
- Buying at the ideal time, such as in early fall, mid-winter and early spring. You may be able to get additional discounts and rebates during this less busy season.
- Take advantage of rebates from the federal and state government, as well as from your local utility provider. We can help you navigate this process.
- Finance your new furnace or enroll in our exclusive HVAC Advantage Program™. For just one low monthly fee, you’ll get a new furnace with repairs and maintenance included.*
How Do I Know When to Replace My Furnace?
Now that you know what to look for in a new furnace, when should you replace your outdated one? Here are a few tips from our Experts that will help you decide.
Heating systems typically last 15–20 years. How long yours will last depends on whether you’ve kept up with furnace maintenance, where you live and your desired temperature. If you’re somewhere with harsh winters, your furnace will operate more often, potentially making it wear out sooner. The same applies if you like to keep your home at a warmer temperature.
Repair Frequency and Cost
Just like any appliance, as furnaces age, the likelihood for frequent furnace repair increases. If your system is more than 15 years old, those repairs can be particularly costly. Common and costly repairs on an older furnace include:
- Blower motor failures
- Ignition control failures
- Heat exchanger failures
If repairs are more than the half the cost of a new furnace, it’s generally best to replace it.
Furnaces older than 15 years can be very inefficient. You could be throwing away as much as 30% of the money you spend to keep your home warm. High energy costs and the desire to decrease energy consumption are also strong reasons to consider replacing your furnace. In fact, an independent study by Decision Analyst shows nearly 20% of homeowners who recently replaced their furnace specifically did so to lower their utility bills.
Trust Your Furnace Replacement to the Experts
It can seem intimidating trying to investigate furnace features on your own. Or recognize exactly when you should replace your furnace. Our Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning Experts are here to make the process much smoother. Call us at (713) 352-7887 or schedule an appointment online to book your free home comfort assessment today.
*For HVAC Service Memberships, certain warranty exclusions and limitations apply. See your signed agreement for full terms and conditions. For the Advantage Program™, please see your signed Advantage Program Agreement for full details and exclusions. Lease with approved credit; visit ServiceExperts.com for details.