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Furnace Installation: Three Important Factors to Consider

Furnace Installation: Three Important Factors to ConsiderAn impending furnace installation for your Fresno area home brings with it some important decisions for you to make. Right from the beginning of your research, consider three key points to discuss with your reliable HVAC contractor. 

As you debate whether or not to replace your furnace, assess its condition. A furnace can last 20 years with careful maintenance, so age alone does not determine the need for a new furnace installation. There are some signs that do signal replacement:

  • If the furnace uses a pilot light rather than electronic ignition
  • If it lacks vent dampers
  • If it uses ever-increasing amounts of fuel
  • If it’s not heating your Fresno-area home adequately
  • If it has been breaking down a lot

Efficiency

Furnaces 15 to 20 years old usually operate with annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) well below 80 percent; it’s the best they could do at the time. Modern furnaces can operate at up to 98 percent AFUE. Depending on a variety of factors, your up-front costs for a new furnace installation may be recovered in around one-third of the new furnace’s life expectancy, just from fuel savings. A modern furnace is better for the environment, too.

Size Matters

Don’t allow your contractor to base the size of your new furnace on the size of your old one. That existing system is likely oversized for your home, both because most homes today have been weatherized since 15 and 20 years ago, and because contractors often oversized furnaces in the old days. For a new furnace installation, make sure your HVAC contractor calculates your home’s heating lload with Manual J. The newer model can be smaller while still providing plenty of warmth.

Fuel

As you contemplate a new furnace, you may want to consider new, alternative fuel sources unavailable 20 years ago. Biomass, biodiesel, propane and wood are some possibilities. Fuel is a commodity subject to price fluctuations, and fossil fuel supplies are diminishing over the long run. On the other hand, natural gas is cheaper today than it has been in many years, and with increased domestic drilling, is expected to remain inexpensive for some time. Your home may already be set up for a natural gas furnace, so you’ll want to consider that as well.

Another excellent alternative is a dual fuel system, in which an energy-efficient heat pump handles most heating needs on mild days while a gas furnace takes over on truly cold days, or when fuel prices make natural gas the preferred alternative on the basis of cost.

For more help in navigating the decisions of a new furnace installation for your Fresno area home, please contact us at Donald P. Dick Air Conditioning.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater Fresno, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about furnace installation and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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