How to Buy an Energy-Efficient Furnace

furnace Aspen Creek Heating DenverAt Aspen Creek Heating & Air in Devner, we want to share a few tips on how to buy an energy-efficient furnace when the time comes. Perhaps it is time for an upgrade, replacement or brand new installation in your dream home. Whatever the reason, choosing an energy-efficient furnace can potentially save you big money on your utility bills while keeping you warm and toasty all winter long.

In today’s world, most people understand the effects of energy consumption and want to do their part to help the environment as well as adopt a less is more lifestyle. Unfortunately, not everyone lives in a temperate climate. Here in the greater Denver and Boulder areas, things get pretty chilly during winter months. And according to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating and cooling comprise approximately 56 percent of the energy utilized in a typical U.S. home. With homes in our area possibly sitting a little higher than average due to our climate, choosing to buy an energy-efficient furnace is not only a smart decision but an environmentally responsible one.

Read on for some guidance on making the best possible investment. 

What is an obsolete furnace?

If you are looking at an installation date before 1992, chances are, your furnace is not doing its job. The U.S. Department of Energy initiated standards for manufacturers at the beginning of 1992 that requires every new furnace to turn at least 78 percent of its fuel into heat. On May 1, 2013, these rose to 80 percent. Therefore, everything sold in today’s world must meet or surpass this number. If your furnace falls into this old age bracket, you can bet that about 30% or more of your heating dollars are going out the roof, not to mention greenhouse gases too.

Pay attention to the percentage when you are looking to buy an energy-efficient furnace. At 90%, it’s considered high efficiency, whereas 80-83 % is considered mid-efficiency. If you lived in a warmer part of the country, it may not be worth it to spend the big dollars for the highest efficiency unit available. However, for our colder Colorado climate, it usually makes sense to choose high efficiency. Here are a couple things to look for:

  • Check the Label – It is preferable to get a furnace that is EnerGuide and ENERGY STAR-certified.The biggest reason why efficiency is so important is that it lowers heating costs, keeps your home as cozy as possible and yet operates quietly, unlike older versions.
  • Check the AFUE Rating – The AFUE Rating stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency which is a rough percentage of the fuel (or energy) your furnace can transform into heat during the year. This is one of the most significant factors to look at when purchasing a new furnace.

Which Furnace is my Best Option?

In general, there is not a huge variance from one brand to another. What is most important is choosing the right size for your home, and having it installed correctly by a licensed and certified technician. If your furnace is not up to code, you will most certainly encounter problems down the road, such as being red flagged by the gas company if you don’t bring your furnace up to standard code.

Look for energy-saving features such as sealed combustion. This means, the combustion air coming from outside mixes with the fuel at a controlled rate, which maximizes the heat and helps save you money. This will also vary the speed of the motor blower, controlling how and where the heat goes.

Two-stage gas valves are a great technological advancement that warms up the furnace quickly and then drops back down to a more economical flow. These valves are also responsible for the speed at which a blower operates. A variable-speed furnace system runs the blower for longer periods at lower speeds, which gives you a quieter and more even heat without consuming unnecessary electricity.

Electronic pilot ignition is another advancement that boosts efficiency compared to when a standing pilot light was used. The electric spark ignition fires the furnace on demand which saves energy. Also, look for a condensing gas furnace, which runs the exhaust gases through a second heat exchanger to extract and use available heat that’s otherwise exhausted. This type of model will pull out nearly all the heat and send the cool exhaust out, leaving behind only condensed water, which is then pumped out.

Warranties are another important part of the equation when looking to buy an energy-efficient furnace. Be sure to ask questions about the warranty on the heat exchangers and other various parts. Expect your new furnace to last at least 15 years. Choosing a major reputable brand name and trusted HVAC specialist will surely help as well. Most appliances come with a manufacturer’s warranty and commonly have two main warranty coverage areas.

The first warranty coverage is on the heat exchanger, which is the heart of the furnace and the most expensive component to replace. The second is a main component warranty, which usually includes blower motors, electronic controls, igniters and other key furnace parts. Your coverage will usually be a 1-year up to a 10-year limited warranty. When reviewing warranty coverage it is very important for you to note all warranties are limited, so be sure you do your homework before you sign the dotted line.

And don’t forget to register your equipment. It does not take much effort to quickly mail or email your HVAC system to the manufacturer. Some companies will not even consider your warranty without product registration. It takes only minutes to do and is so worth the effort and price of mind. Make it your first course of action while the technicians are installing.

So, why talk to the experts at Aspen Creek Heating & Air about how to buy an energy-efficient furnace for your Denver or Boulder home? Because we can give you a free quote on a furnace that meets your unique needs, including the size of your home, layout, insulation levels, climate, BTU (British Thermal Unit) output, costs, thermostat operations, and more. Give us a call today to get started.

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