Purchasing a new furnace is a major investment in your home. Naturally, you want to make a wise decision, and the guide assembled below is meant to help you with that process. Once you’ve made the right selection, installation is equally important.
Your heating system may be prone to faults due to mistakes during installation. Therefore, a thorough procedure is necessary to prevent issues in the future. Before installing a new furnace, consider these factors to ensure optimum energy efficiency and comfort.
Sizing Your Furnace Equipment
One of the most critical factors to consider in selection is the size of your furnace. The capacity of the system is usually directly proportional to square footage.
Choosing the right equipment involves calculating the system capacity in BTUs (British Thermal Unit). A BTU is a unit of energy that can raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.
To find the ideal BTU rating for your home, you’ll have to measure the dimensions of the space. Another variable to include in the consideration is the height of the ceiling. Sunlight exposure can reduce the heating load in winter, but the heat increases the cooling demands in summer. Your region’s climate will also influence the sizing of your furnace. Colder areas in the northeast need a more powerful system to heat the house through the cold, freezing weather. Fortunately, we have milder conditions in our part of California.
A system that falls short of the building’s heating load will constantly run as it tries to keep up. A bigger system is not necessarily the solution; if the power of your system exceeds the heating load, it will switch on and off continuously to avoid overheating. A precise calculation will determine the performance and longevity of your furnace.
The Efficiency of the New Furnace
There are different ratings to determine the efficiency of your heating system. AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) is the ratio of your equipment’s consumption to its heating output. Federal regulations require heating systems to have no less than 80% AFUE ratings.
HSPF is another metric that assesses the efficiency of heat pumps and mini-split systems. The Heating Seasonal Performance Factor indicates how many kilowatt hours the system will consume per BTU. A rating of 7.7 HSPF is the minimum whereas an ENERGY STAR-certified model will have an HSPF of 8.5 or above.
Upgrading from a 7.7 to an 8.5 HSPF or higher could yield approximately 10% in energy savings. However, there are other factors to consider before choosing a highly rated heat pump.
Your budget could influence your choice of heat pump model. Also, efficiency is critical for multi-zone mini-split systems in the winter. Our professionals at Oak Island Heating and Air Conditioning will walk with you through the process when choosing a comfort solution for your San Marcos home.
Potential Installation Challenges
There is a reason why top furnace brands recommend consulting a professional for installation. Technical problems can emerge during the process or months after the service.
For example, sizing mistakes can shorten the lifespan of your heating equipment. A professional cannot simply choose specifications similar to those of your current system. Recent models are more energy efficient, so the requirements may change. Furthermore, a thorough assessment should determine whether the current system’s capacity is suitable for your home.
The AFUE and HSPF ratings can only tell us the efficiency of your equipment. Other factors within your home may pose challenges for your heating system. Clogs and leaks in the air ducts can limit air distribution throughout the building.
The network of ductwork facilitates the flow of air to different parts of the building. Air ducts require the standard grade of insulation for your climate. According to the DOE (Department of Energy), the lack of appropriate insulation could waste approximately 30% of the heat.
Additionally, regulations have minimum standards for air duct insulation and ductwork. The City of San Marcos Building Safety Division requires ducting in conditioned spaces to have an R-value of R-6. You can always count on Oak Island Heating and Air Conditioning technicians for an assessment of your San Marcos home.
Advanced Features for Safety and Comfort
If you plan to replace your furnace, you might benefit from advanced features in the modern equipment models. A variable-speed system utilizes sophisticated controls to regulate the heat output. It releases warm air gradually, consuming less energy in the process.
A variable heat furnace can also boost your home’s comfort by pushing air through the filter at slower speeds. As a result, the filter has time to capture contaminants. Balanced air distribution is also critical for managing moisture levels when the relative humidity in San Marcos hits 80%.
Ignition systems on modern furnaces are much safer and consume little or no fuel. If your gas furnace has a standing flame that is always on, you may want to consider an upgrade. The pilot reduces the system’s efficiency and increases the risk of hazards from toxic fumes.
If your home has uneven temperature, you may want to consider a model with zoning system capability. You can opt for high-efficiency mini-split systems that work with smart thermostats to regulate temperatures accurately. The latest furnace models can seamlessly communicate with thermostats, but you have to confirm their compatibilities because different systems can have varying specifications. Oak Island Heating and Air Conditioning technicians can assist you with any smart thermostat problems you may encounter.
You can find new models that are ENERGY STAR-certified. ENERGY STAR systems are assessed by professionals before the certification. Despite the energy savings, you may want to consider the implications of acquiring an energy-efficient model on your budget.
Installation and Maintenance Expectations
Different heating systems can vary according to their technology and structure. Conventional forced-air HVAC systems will typically have a larger footprint. Heat pumps and mini-split systems are more compact.
A mini-split system offers more installation options than conventional ducted systems. The units require three-inch conduits from the outdoor to the indoor unit and back. You can mount the indoor unit on the wall. Other versatile options include a free-standing model you can place on the floor.
The ease of installation is critical when looking to extend heating into new or renovated rooms. A mini-split system is popular for guest rooms and home offices. You can install it in areas where extending ductwork would be impractical.
Heat pumps and mini-split systems are also easier to maintain. They have fewer components, making them less prone to failure. These options are suitable choices if you’re concerned about the time commitments of maintenance tasks. However, you will still have to schedule maintenance annually. The advantage of a heat pump is that you can tune-up the AC and furnace simultaneously. Therefore, it has lower maintenance requirements than a conventional system.
Do You Need to Replace Your Current System?
Not every fault or sign of inefficiency means that you have to upgrade your heating system. You can replace components to restore the performance of your furnace. Sometimes it is an issue that you can fix with a filter change or an elimination of airflow obstructions.
However, if you are frequently experiencing system failures, your furnace could be approaching the end of its life. In such instances, a replacement is recommended. A new installation can reduce your operational costs throughout the system’s lifetime.
Oak Island Heating and Air Conditioning is a dependable BBB-accredited company offering furnace and heat pump services in San Marcos. We’ve been doing so for over 20 years. Besides heating and cooling installation, maintenance, and repair, we provide indoor air quality solutions. Our company is a Lennox Premier Dealer, and our NATE-certified technicians work on all makes and models. We can also help arrange financing on approved credit for new installations. Contact us today to schedule a free in-home consultation.