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Heating with Gas

A guide to choosing furnace size, efficiency, and features

Replacing or improving a furnace may not pay off as handsomely as it did during the energy crisis of the late 1970s. But it may deliver steady, modest savings. And efficient heating isn’t only about money. Because today’s furnaces burn less fuel to generate heat, they are less polluting than their predecessors. Some models with modulating heat output can produce heat more continuously than older furnaces, increasing comfort.

Heat pumps that wring heat from the ground or from outdoor air (and reverse the process in summer, to act as an air conditioner) are the preferred way to heat in the South and Southwest, and oil furnaces have a niche in older homes, mostly in the Northeast. But the majority of new central-heating systems use a gas furnace, the focus of this report.

The Basic Choices

How do most people go about buying a furnace? First, they contact contractors. To prepare this report, we did, too. More than 500 specialists in residential heating and air conditioning told us about their experiences in installing and maintaining heating equipment.

The major manufacturers of gas furnaces are American Standard (Trane), United Technology (Carrier, Bryant, Heil, Tempstar, and Comfortmaker brands) and Goodman (Janitrol and Amana). Other brands include Rheem (Ruud), and Lennox (Armstrong). All offer furnaces in a range of capacities and efficiencies, and we think manufacturers generally deliver on those specifications. Each brand offers a generally similar array of key features.

The degree of similarity between manufacturers’ offerings is one reason this report does not include Ratings of furnaces by brand. The most important steps in selecting a furnace, we think, are to ensure that the unit’s specifications fit your needs, that it is bought from a contractor who installs it well, and that it’s adequately maintained. Our survey results help confirm that view: When we asked about the most common reasons for service calls for furnaces, about twice as many contractors we surveyed cited human error—inadequate maintenance, for example, or improper installation—as cited defective equipment.

How Large a Furnace?

When it comes to furnaces, size counts—a lot. A furnace that’s too small won’t keep the house comfortable during extreme cold. Partly to avoid that possibility, most installed furnaces are too large for the home they’re installed in. Cost is only one of the problems with such a unit. Compared with a correctly sized furnace, a furnace that’s too large will cycle on and off more frequently. That puts more wear on its components, wastes energy, and may cause the temperature to vary uncomfortably. Also, upgrading to a larger furnace may require the installation of bigger ducts to accommodate the increased airflow. Without proper duct sizing, the airflow can be noisy.

To be sure of correct sizing, choose a contractor who agrees to take the time to calculate heating needs using an industry-standard calculation.

Why Is My Furnace Leaking Water?

As the temperature begins to dip, one of the last things you want is to have issues with your furnace. If you begin to see water forming around the unit, you may start to worry and wonder what’s happening. Usually, this signifies that something...

Reasons Your Furnace Isn’t Blowing Out Hot Air

It’s the middle of winter and you’re trying to warm up. You check to make sure all the windows are closed, there are no drafts or cracks allowing cold air to escape in. It’s still cold in your home. What’s the issue then? The...

Why Isn’t My Hot Water Hot?

One of the worst feelings is stepping into a shower–only to find out there’s cold water pouring out. Without reliable hot water, you can’t shower, wash your dishes, or carry out any number of other activities that involve water. Here are a couple reasons as...

Common Furnace Malfunctions

The only time you need your furnace is when the weather cold (or frigid!). At those times, the furnace may stop working at 1:00 am, you wake up with goosebumps, become desperate for warmth, and you don't know how to troubleshoot the furnace problem. Common furnace...

Why You Should Inspect Your AC Unit At The End Of The Season

Central air conditioners are connected to many homes for cool air during summer or warm air during the winter. Therefore, the cooling and heating systems require regular maintenance to check for any malfunctions before you begin the next season of air conditioning within your...

Common Boiler Malfunctions

Many people do not give much thought to the central heating system.  People expect it to work when they need it and for it to continue pumping out a continous supply of hot water. However, if there is a fault, or the boiler is malfunctioning, it...

Why Does My AC Keep Running?

When an air conditioning unit is constantly running, it is not only blowing money, but it's a sign that something isn't right with the unit. An air conditioner should kick on and off automatically unless there is an issue. An air conditioner that runs...

What Are The Most Common AC Malfunctions?

Your home air conditioner is one of the most important appliances in your home. While air conditioners that are well-maintained can last for a long time, it always seems as if they malfunction at the worst possible times. Fortunately, many of the reasons for...

Why Is My AC Unit Not Cooling Down My Home?

If you are experiencing higher temperatures in your home than set on your thermostat, it can make your stay frustrating and uncomfortable. The problem might be simple or it might mean you need a new AC unit. Why is your AC not cooling the...

How To Safely Clean Your AC Unit

One of the easiest ways to extend the life of your AC unit as well as to ease the task of maintenance is to make sure the AC unit is clean. A clean air conditioning unit will also allow your home to be cooled...

Common Air Conditioning Malfunctions

As the temperature rises on the outside, you want the temperature to drop on the inside. One of the worse things that can happen on a sweltering summer day is a malfunctioning AC unit, causing you and your family discomfort. Below are just a few issues that...

HVAC License-Dangers and Risks

Are you putting your family in Danger?
Do you know if your contractor has an HVAC License?  You would think the question of possessing the proper HVAC license would be an easy one to answer.  Ha!  Not here in Michigan, just visit-  LARA –...

Breath Better, Live Healthier with quality air filters

Furnace or Air Condition Filters for Health and Savings
When you have a central furnace and air conditioning system, air quality often becomes an issue, affecting how you breathe, your health and the basic quality of life indoors.  These types of systems use...

Is Your Air-Conditioning System Ready for Warm Weather?

Is Your Air-Conditioning System Ready for Warm Weather?
This is the focus I’ll be tackling here on this post, enjoy.
While cooling is essential for facility comfort and productivity, it accounts for nearly 15 percent of the electricity used in residential homes...

Ductless Split-System Heat Pumps (Mini-Splits)

 This article is reproduced from the U.S. Department of Energy Website.??Ductless split-system heat pumps (mini splits) make good retrofit add-ons to houses with “non-ducted” heating systems, such as hydronic (hot water heat), radiant panels, and space heaters (wood, kerosene, propane). They can also be...

Moisture, Mold and Mildew Control in the Home

Key Points

Mold and mildew can cause discoloration, odor problems and the degradation of building materials.
Moisture control is the most important strategy for reducing the growth of mold and mildew.
Thermal bridges, windows and wall cavities are common areas...

Ten Ways to Improve Heating System Performance

Key Points

Optimizing heating system performance can save on energy costs and improve building comfort.
Regular maintenance and efficiency upgrades can keep your system operating at peak efficiency.
If your system is 15 years old or older, consider installing...

Refrigerant Battle of the 21st century

R22 vs R410, Why the Big Scare.
Today 5/9/2017
I would like to start by saying this is an update from 2012. Since this article was posted a few thing have changed. The biggest change has been the cost of the R-22, it...

Heating Tax Credits for 2011

$500 -- 2011 HVAC Energy Tax Credit
Although not as aggressive as the past two years of energy tax credits, the new round of tax credits are here for 2011.
When an aging or unreliable comfort system is due for repair, it...

Thermostats

Home Furnace Thermostat
Adam’s video pick to help with your project-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cXvcs9VXXI&feature=related

The furnace thermostat is the nerve center of your home heating system. It’s the main control point that determines when and how much heat will be produced by the...