Heating & Furnace Systems

Furnaces serve as the most frequent dwelling heating system at the United States, as stated by the U.S. Department of Energy. These units heat air inside a central system, then use a series of ducts to distribute air through your home. Knowing the several things that influence heating and furnace systems, as well as the possible alternatives to your home furnace, will be able to help you determine whether that heating system is the best choice for your family.

Furnace Fuels

Furnaces can be powered using a number of fuels. Over half of all U.S. homeowners rely on natural gas for home heating, while 25 percent switch to power to power furnaces and other heating systems, reports that the U.S. Department of Energy. The other 11 percent heat with oil, along with the remainder choose alternate fuels, such as wood, pellets, coal, liquid propane and biomass. Each furnace is generally rated to take only 1 type of fuel, with the exception of multifuel furnaces, that can be built to take care of wood, coal and biomass products like corn or peat.

Heating and Furnace System Prices

The price of getting a new door represents just a portion of the total cost of purchasing and operating a furnace to heat your home. Furnace operating costs are determined not only by the type of fuel used to power the unit but also by the efficiency of this unit. The annual fuel utilization efficiency reveals the efficacy by which every furnace operates, and the higher the AFUE, the more efficient the furnace. An AFUE of 90 percent means that 90 percent of their gas burned by the furnace is going to be transformed into heat while the remaining 10 percent is wasted via combustion or alternative processes. As stated by the U.S. Department of Energy, electric furnaces have a minimum AFUE of 78 percent, though most variety from 95 percent to 100 percent efficacy. Gas-powered units have a minimum AFUE of 80 percent, with the minimum AFUE for oil furnaces at 83 percent. Condensing units, which compress water vapors during their surgery, can have an efficiency rating around 10 percent greater than noncondensing units. While costs for various furnace fuels vary considerably by region and over time, gas, coal and wood represent three of their most economical fuel options as of November 2012, according to the U.S. Energy Information Association (EIA). Wood pellets and corn are the next most economical options, while heating oil and power represent the most expensive ways to power your furnace.


Normally, furnaces were sized according to square footage. This old square footage sizing resulted in furnaces that were much too big for most homes. To cut heating costs and save on equipment, ditch the square footage sizing and choose a trader that will carry out a heat load calculation that will help you size your furnace correctly. The Air Conditioning Contractors of America’s Manual J system reflects the industry standard for sizing heating and cooling units.

Alternative Heating Systems

While furnaces remain the most popular system for home heating, homeowners looking for alternate heating systems can look to boilers or heat pumps. Boilers heat, which is then distributed to baseboard or radiant floor systems to heat the home without using forced air. Like furnaces, they are used only for heating, thus a separate cooling system in required. Heat pumps can be used for heat and cooling, eliminating the need for another furnace and air conditioning system. Unlike furnaces, which heat air, heat pumps bring present heat out of the exterior air to heat the home. These units also operate much more efficiently than comparable electric heaters and can heat the home for less than half of the price of heating with an electric furnace, according to the EIA.

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