Things to Consider Before Replacing Your Furnace - What to Look Out For

If your old furnace is experiencing breakdowns and is requiring expensive repairs, you might consider buying a replacement. A new furnace is more energy-efficient and would keep working during the coldest nights you need it most. However, spending on a new furnace is not a cheap undertaking. You have to make sure that buying a new one is worth the money. When weighing your choices, you have to consider the following:

Age of your furnace

Even if your furnace was built to last 20 years, it could already experience frequent breakdowns just nine to twelve years into its design life. The cost of repairs for the next eight years may prove to be more expensive when added up compared to buying a new unit. If you don’t know how old your furnace is, you can always check the label for its manufactured date.

Condition of your ducts

If your furnace has not yet reached its prime, maybe what you need is not a new furnace but repairs on your ducts. Even if the unit itself is working fine, leakages in the ducts can cause your furnace to work harder, increasing your bills. Have your ducts inspected and repaired first and see if its performance increased and your bills decreased.

Adding insulation

You might also consider checking the condition of your house’s insulation. Insulation is relatively cheaper than a super-efficient furnace. Insulation can save you up to 5% on your energy bills while trapping adequate heat in your home to keep it warm.

Efficiency savings

If you decide to buy a replacement furnace, you have to consider the new furnace’s efficiency. When a furnace is energy efficient, it converts a substantial portion of the electricity it uses into useful work. The rest of the electricity it uses is wasted as heat energy, and you want a furnace that minimizes that wasted energy. To know the efficiency of your furnace, check its Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating. Most furnaces today have an AFUE rating of 80%, although some models and designs have achieved 98% ratings.

The caveat is that energy-efficient models tend to have a higher price tag than their less-efficient counterparts. You have to strike a balance between your immediate budget and long-term bill costs. To know whether the added efficiency is worth its price tag, find out how much you are paying for annual heating costs and the AFUE rating of your existing unit.

Furnace efficiency savings calculation example

High efficiency does not always mean it’s worth its high upfront price tag. Let’s say you are paying $1,000 annually for heating costs of a unit with 65% efficiency. A unit that is 90% efficient would translate to an additional 25% efficiency, which means you might only have to pay $750 per year for heating. In ten years, that’s worth $2,500 savings. If you opt for a standard unit with 80% efficiency rating, you will pay $850 per year or $1,500 energy savings in ten years.

Divide the ten-year savings you make over the cost of the furnace to see which one has higher savings per unit cost. If the 90% efficient furnace costs $20,000, you save $0.12 on electricity for every unit dollar you spent buying the furnace, or a difference of $0.88. However, if the 80% efficient furnace only costs $10,000, you save $0.15 for every unit dollar or a difference of $0.85. The less the difference, the more savings you made from the furnace, which means the 80% efficient unit would be more economical for you both in the short and long run.

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Dillon Heywood