If you’re shopping for a new furnace with winter bearing down on you, you’re probably feeling some pressure to get it done quickly. But a furnace is a long-term investment, and the wrong furnace is a costly mistake! Let’s answer the question “What kind of furnace do I need?” so you can go into the purchase process feeling comfortable and informed.
The first thing to consider, of course, is fuel type. For many of us, this is determined by the house itself, but if you’re going to make a change, now’s the time to do it. If natural gas wasn’t available when your home’s last furnace was installed, don’t assume that’s still true– check. Another option to consider is a switch to geothermal. The tax credit for geothermal installation is currently 30% of the installation cost, and this green technology offers such substantial energy savings that systems can pay for themselves in a matter of years. They last longer than traditional HVAC systems, too!
The next important factor is the size of your system. If you’re living in a manufactured home that’s relatively small, you’ll need a completely different unit than someone living in a foursquare home in one of Indianapolis’s historic neighborhoods. This is why you shouldn’t get excited about lowball quotes given over the phone. You’ll want someone to come out to the property and really dig in, both to make sure they understand your home’s quirks, and to see if the furnace you’re replacing was the right one in the first place. While you’re at it, choose the most energy-efficient furnace you can afford.
Then there’s the issue of zones. Maybe your home has an addition. Possibly it was built before central heating was a reality, which made it trickier to install the ducts. There are plenty of reasons why your house might have chilly areas in the winter. Thermostat placement can be critical to ensuring the whole house is comfortable, so your might need to be moved to optimize your HVAC system’s performance. You might also benefit from the creation of “zones”, each with its own thermostat.
One final but important consideration is the option of purchasing a service plan. “But my home warranty will cover anything that goes wrong,” you might be thinking. Sadly, no. Consumer watchdogs increasingly report that home warranties are a bad bargain. They focus on minimal repairs done by less experienced contractors, who will accept the low rates warranty companies offer.
To get every dollar out of your new furnace, give your system the gift of regular cleaning and maintenance by choosing an HVAC expert you trust, then partnering with them for service. Such plans often offer discounts on repairs and priority scheduling, as well. When choosing which professional to work with, make sure you ask about and compare these plans, and check the fine print!
Choosing a furnace requires some legwork, but the job doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Just cover your bases, and you’ll be toasty and warm when the snow flies.