When people think of furnaces, they often think of big, noisy contraptions that cost a lot of money to run and maintain.
The truth is that today’s new high-efficiency furnaces can save a homeowner up to 50 percent in operating costs over a ten-year-old furnace. Many 1990 and earlier model furnaces have Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings of 65 percent or less. Compare that to today, when the minimum AFUE for any furnace sold in the United States is 80 percent (many top-line models even go up to nearly 97 percent). In short, today’s furnaces are not like your grandfather’s furnace. They’re energy-efficient, cost-effective and, with the proper maintenance, can have very long life spans.
What types of furnaces are available?
There are several different types of furnaces available today. Two of the most popular are:
- Central warm-air furnace
Central warm-air furnaces rely on gas, fuel oil or electricity to heat a home. The furnace is typically housed in a central location within the house and disburses warm air through a series of ducts. These types of furnaces are usually either forced air (which, as the name suggests, forces air through the ducts) or gravity furnaces, which uses gravity to circulate air (cold air descends through the ducts and into the furnace, where it is reheated and then distributed).
- Steam or hot water system
The water you hear gurgling through a radiator? That’s coming from a steam or hot water furnace. These centralized systems heat an area by supplying steam or hot water through a radiator, pipes, heating coils and other distribution methods.
What are some of the benefits of furnaces?
- Higher AFUE rated furnaces can significantly reduce homeowners’ gas bills
- Many furnaces boast variable and multi-speed features that can provide enhanced indoor comfort by slowly ramping-up to a desired thermostat setting rather than turning on at full speed. This dramatically reduces system noise and dissipates the amount of cold air sitting below warm air – a problem typically associated with single-speed furnaces.