Like any mechanical device, furnaces will occasionally malfunction or stop working altogether. Repairing an existing furnace is often the most sensible financial choice, and a skilled heating specialist can save homeowners money by getting a little more life out of an aging unit.
But, there comes a time in the life of every furnace when repairs no longer make financial sense. Most homeowners don’t like to hear they need to purchase a new furnace, but you may be surprised at some of the cost-saving benefits you will reap by having a new unit installed. Below are several potential advantages that will lighten the long-term load on your wallet.
Higher Efficiency Standards
Natural gas furnaces are being manufactured with efficiency ratings that are higher than ever before. It is now normal for furnaces to operate at 90 percent efficiency or better, which means only 10 percent of the fuel is not directly utilized for heating purposes. Compared to furnaces from a few decades ago that wasted about one-third of fuel, this represents a tremendous jump in savings for consumers.
If you’re weighing the potential savings in cost, then contact a qualified heating professional for help in calculating the benefits. They can provide you with an analysis that will demonstrate estimated energy savings in real dollars and cents.
Older gas-fed furnaces use a continuously burning pilot light that ignites burners whenever the thermostat sends a call for heat. However, pilot lights waste fuel and are an inconvenience to relight, particularly if the furnace is in a cold basement or attic.
To counter these disadvantages, today’s furnaces use electronic igniters; these function by sparking upon command and lighting the burners. Similar spark ignition systems are used in barbecue grills and even candle lighters. Electronic igniters prevent needless gas use and the hassles of dealing with a pilot light that may extinguish itself.
Sealed Combustion Chamber
Traditionally, gas furnaces use an open combustion chamber that can be viewed with the naked eye from the exterior. While this system is simple and can freely draw in fresh combustion air, it allows heat to escape due to not being contained in a sealed environment. Newer furnaces are now equipped with combustion chambers that are sealed and able to prevent needless heat loss to the exterior.
Zoned Heating Capability
Another useful feature that can be found in some modern furnaces is zoned heating. Systems equipped with zoned heating direct warm air to specific rooms in a home as needed, and heat is restricted from entering areas where it is unnecessary at a given moment.
In some systems, both zoned and un-zoned, the air volume delivered by blowers can also be controlled precisely by users. This prevents uneven heating in certain areas and enhances the ability of users to precisely target rooms with specific heat loads. Zoned heating relies on sophistication in both the furnace and ductwork, as certain air routing equipment must be in-place for zoned heating to be possible.
Enhanced Heat Exchanger Functionality
A big advantage of buying a new furnace is access to enhanced heat exchange functionality. Heat exchanging is the manner in which a system transfers energy from a source of heat, such as gas burners, to the air surrounding it.
The use of single exchangers is the norm in most furnaces up until recently. These days, furnaces are often equipped with dual exchangers, which are able to extract more heat from the same output as before. Instead of wasting heat energy that is not extracted the first run through the exchanger, a secondary exchanger is able to pull much of the remaining heat into the air flow.