Your Fairfax, Virginia, home can see a variety of temperatures and weather conditions over the winter season. If you are shopping for a new furnace, there are several factors you need to consider so that you make the right choice for your home.
Choose the Best Fuel Type for Your Budget
Furnaces are powered by different fuels such as coal, fuel oil, and wood, but the most common fuel source is natural gas. An electric furnace or heat pump can provide a viable option for homeowners living in the south and the southeastern United States where winters are mild, but they are far less efficient in climates like Virginia’s. A gas or oil-powered model will provide the high-efficiency heating you need to keep you comfortable and reduce your energy consumption.
Gas furnaces typically cost more than oil furnaces, but they boast higher efficiency ratings. You’ll spend more to purchase and install the unit, then save money over time as your utility costs fall. Oil furnaces work best for homeowners who need a budget-friendly option from the outset. Many models still offer excellent efficiency.
Pay Attention to Fuel Prices
It is also important to consider that oil prices fluctuate more often than gas prices. Costs could drop one month, then shoot up the next, so you will need to prepare for those fluctuations. If you need more consistency, consider a gas furnace that will offer more predictable monthly expenses.
Examine AFUE Ratings
AFUE stands for annual fuel utilization efficiency and describes the overall energy efficiency of a particular furnace. AFUE ratings are expressed as percentages, and higher numbers indicate greater efficiency. Oil furnaces tend to boast AFUE ratings between 60 and 80 percent while gas furnaces can achieve up to 98 percent in their AFUE ratings.
The fuel type isn’t the only factor to consider, however. You should examine several furnace models to decide which one will offer you the best cost savings. Other ratings, such as EER (energy efficiency ratio) can also help you find the most cost-effective furnace for your family. Considering as many data points as possible will help you more accurately compare different models so you can make an informed decision.
Consider the Total Cost of Ownership
The total cost of ownership (TOC) takes into account energy use, installation, maintenance, and repair costs for your new furnace. Some furnaces hold up better than others over the years, so you won’t have to spend as much money to keep them running. You might find furnaces that take less time or effort to install, so your upfront costs will decrease.
If you are trying to calculate the TOC so that you can make comparisons prior to making the investment, it can prove difficult or overwhelming. There are several ratings and factors involved that affect how the furnace will perform in your home. It is best to seek professional advice.
Consult Your HVAC Technician
Don’t discount your HVAC technician as an indispensable resource. He or she has installed or worked on many HVAC units, and therefore, knows what systems can best meet your needs. Your contractor will perform a load calculation to take into consideration factors unique to your home such as its size and the number of occupants. A trained contractor will be able to take need, budget, and all relevant considerations into account to help you to make your decision.
Your technician will also have insider knowledge about certain brands or models and their reputation in the industry. Consider asking your HVAC technician to make a recommendation between two or three models. This information can make it easier for you to make a decision and reduce your research load.
Buying a new furnace is an investment, and you will appreciate the energy-saving options of the newer models on the market. To discuss your HVAC needs or to request a consultation for a new furnace, call Brennan’s Heating & Air Conditioning at 703-783-0145.
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