When Buying the Most Efficient Furnace is Not the Key

Posted on by Jean Harris

Furnace InstallationFurnaces, being one of the widely used heating systems in the US, come in the highest efficiency ratings possible. At 97-98 percent rates, homeowners can have the highest efficiency furnace at home.

While such choices make sense in certain conditions, did you know that it’s not always the key to a long-term efficiency?

Sophisticated Yet More Complex

Furnaces with highest efficiency ratings have complex parts, and it means costlier unit and installation. It also means higher repair cost when it breaks. These types of furnaces usually have the following features (although there are brands that offer some or all of these through premium versions of low-efficiency furnaces):

  • Zoned Heating – According to consumerreports.org, units connected to zoned ductworks tend to require more repairs.
  • Air Filtration – It could be useful for people with chronic lung diseases, but not for general public.
  • Variable Heat Output – It can increase efficiency and comfort through varying the amount of heat the unit delivers.
  • Variable-Speed Blowers – It helps reduce drafts in temperature as it allows slower air delivery when less heat is required.
  • Dual Heat Exchanger – A secondary heat exchanger aids in drawing more heat from the air they burn.
  • Ignition System – It serves as a more efficient alternative to a pilot light.
  • Warranty – It is longer than their low-efficiency counterparts.

Ideal Choice

HVAC pro Dave Jones, featured in Handyman, suggests that your best bet is “a 92 percent efficiency furnace with one of the new ECM fan motors.” According to him, “Higher efficiency means higher complexity, and I like to keep the machinery as simple as possible. The more complex it is, the more expensive it is, and the more it will cost to fix when it breaks.”

Furnace repairmen in Denver agree that you can use a furnace with 95 percent rating and avoid higher repair costs which are common in highest efficiency furnaces. The 2013 US regulations also mandate furnaces with 90 percent AFUE ratings and up in 30 northern states, including Denver in Colorado.

There’s no doubt in what highest efficiency furnaces can do in terms of performance and energy saving. In an article at Energy Star, the most recommended furnaces are those with 97 ratings and greater. But if a high-efficiency furnace can do the job based on your needs, why go for something that would make you pay higher repair bills?

About the Author

Jean finished a course in Industrial Psychology and a Masters course in Public Administration from an American learning institution. She has authored a book in customer service improvements in the last 20 years in the United States.