7 Things to Be Aware of Before Buying a Furnace in Birmingham
Purchasing a new furnace may not be a concern in the immediate future. But it’s wise to know the things that will likely influence your selection when you’re ready to buy. Here are seven things you’ll want to consider when you're due for furnace replacement in Birmingham.
1. Size and Installation Quality
To run at peak efficiency and comfort, your furnace must be properly sized for your home. When it involves furnaces, bigger is certainly not better. We frequently get requests from customers to purchase a big furnace in the mistaken belief that a larger furnace is either more dependable or will offer better comfort.
The reverse is true. Oversized furnaces will short cycle, or constantly 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 purchasing a new furnace. Even if it’s the correct size but installed wrong, the U.S. Department of Energy says you could lose as much as 30% of your energy efficiency.
Another crucial component of installation is ductwork. If yours is old or designed wrong, you might have problems with noise or comfort. A furnace is only as effective as the duct system it’s linked to.
At Norrell Service Experts, our Expert HVAC technicians are ACE certified, which means they’re skilled in repairing and installing various types of home comfort systems. Besides technical skill, our technicians are also trained in treating you ethically. We also stand behind our work with a 100% satisfaction guarantee for a year.*
2. Energy Efficiency
Furnaces are ranked by a term called 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 spent during the heating process.
If your present furnace is 15 years old, it’s likely ranked 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 compare new furnaces there is one more important thing to consider: blower technology. This part moves air throughout your home. And it also uses a lot of electricity, so it’s essential to be familiar with your options.
There are three types 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 costly and also the least energy efficient.
- Constant torque motor. This technology finds a balance between cost and energy efficiency. It delivers an electrical efficiency boost over a traditional motor design.
- Variable-speed motor. The most energy-efficient furnaces can run at different speeds. Instead of operating at full blast 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 important 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
- Whisper-quiet gas burners
With this technology, you might not even notice that your furnace is running.
5. Smart Thermostat
You probably use a programmable thermostat, but it's quite possible you probably aren’t maximizing your energy savings. These thermostats can be challenging to program, especially if your schedule varies 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 a bonus, you’ll also be able to monitor and adjust your settings from just about anyplace on your phone. Some models can even notify you if they detect a problem with your furnace or remind you when it’s time to replace your air filter.
There’s a significant difference in furnace quality and reliability. Like any large purchase, we think it’s best to go with a major brand name. With a leading 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 center of the furnace and the most expensive component to replace. This part usually has a 20-year limited warranty or lifetime limited warranty, but this can vary based on the manufacturer and furnace model.
- Main components. This includes the blower motor, electronic controls, ignitors and other key parts. Warranties can vary from as short as a one-year limited warranty to as long as a 10-year limited warranty.
When going over warranty coverage, it’s essential to know it's limited. So, you should make sure you understand the limitations. For example, nearly all standard manufacturer warranties only include the cost of the replacement part, not labor. And labor on a replacing heat exchanger could get very expensive.
Once your new furnace is running, make sure you finish the product registration immediately. Many manufacturers may limit the warranty term if the product registration is not done. This step is easy and typically only takes a few minutes.
How much does all this cost anyway? It could range from $1,700 for a basic furnace, or $5,500 or more for a high-efficiency model.
As you consider these costs and the affect on your budget, keep in mind that unlike nearly every other appliance you may need to purchase, your new furnace may help pay for itself from the monthly energy savings it provides.
A couple of other ways to save include:
- Replacing your air conditioner at the same time.
- Purchasing at the right time, such as in early fall, mid-winter and early spring. You may be able to get extra discounts and rebates during this slower season.
- Reap the benefits of rebates from the federal and state government, as well as from your local utility company. We can help you navigate this process.
- Finance your new furnace or sign up for our exclusive HVAC Advantage Program™. For just one low monthly fee, you’ll receive a new furnace with repairs and maintenance included.*
How Do I Know When to Replace My Furnace?
Now that you know what to search for in a new furnace, when should you replace your outdated one? Here are a few tips from our Experts that will help you make that decision.
Heating systems typically last 15–20 years. How long yours will last depends on whether you’ve done furnace maintenance, where you live and your temperature preferences. If you’re in a place with harsh winters, your furnace will run more frequently, potentially making it wear out faster. The same goes if you like to keep your home at a warmer temperature.
Repair Frequency and Cost
Just like any appliance, as furnaces age, the potential for frequent furnace repair goes up. If your system is more than 15 years old, those repairs can be especially expensive. 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 recommended to replace it.
Furnaces older than 15 years can be extremely 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 reduce energy use are also strong reasons to think about replacing your furnace. In fact, an independent study by Decision Analyst reveals nearly 20% of homeowners who recently replaced their furnace specifically did so to reduce their utility bills.
Trust Your Furnace Replacement to the Experts
It can feel intimidating trying to investigate furnace features on your own. Or recognize exactly when you should get a new furnace. Our Norrell Service Experts Experts are here to make the process much simpler. Contact us at 205-267-0023 or schedule an appointment online to book your free home comfort assessment now.
*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.