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Selecting the right furnace for your home is key for creating the most comfortable, safe indoor environment possible for your family. While comfort and safety are priorities in choosing the right furnace, you should also consider cost and energy efficiency as well.
Today, forced air furnaces that run on natural gas are the most popular because of availability, cost and efficiency - the most efficient heating method available today. A forced air furnace's efficiency is measured by AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency), or how efficiently the furnace produces heat. AFUE is determined by comparing the amount of energy used to create an amount of heat. For example, an AFUE of 80% means that 80 cents of each dollar is being converted into heat, while 20 cents is waste or emission.
The amount of heat that is required to heat your home to your satisfaction is measured by BTUs (British Thermal Units). BTU is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 pound of water by 1 degree.
Selecting an appropriate sized furnace with the right AFUE and BTU characters are all decisions that our sales and technical team can help you with. We also carry a wide variety of different makes and models that not only fit within the technical specs your home needs, but your budget as well.
Generally, there are 5 types of forced air furnaces available that will go into our decision making process.
A single-stage furnaces has 1 fan speed, and come with AFUE options of 80% and 95%. These furnaces operate at 100% BTU capacity at all times and are the most common furnaces, but generally the least efficient and loudest operating.
A two-stage furnace has 2 fan speeds and are available with AFUE options of 80% and 92%+. These furnaces operate at 60% BTU capacity and progress to 100% as needed. Two-stage furnaces provide a more uniform heat distribution and are usually a bit quieter than a single-stage furnace.
Two-Stage Variable Speed
A two-stage variable speed furnace is available with AFUEs of 80% and 95%+. These furnaces operate at 60% BTU capacity and progress to 100% as needed by their variable speed motor. Two-stage variable speed furnaces are much quieter than single-stage or two-stage furnaces. When additional equipment is added to the furnace such as air purification systems or heat pumps, this is the recommended choices for 2 and 3 story homes.
Three-Stage Variable Speed
Three-stage variable speed furnaces have AFUE ratings of 80% and 95%+. These furnaces operate at 60% BTU capacity and progress to 100% when needed by their variable speed motor. These furnaces are much quieter than single-stage or two-stage furnaces. When additional equipment is added to this option, it is the recommended choice for maximum efficiency in 2 and 3 story homes.
Modulating Variable Speed
Modulating variable speed furnaces are the best option available in terms of operating efficiency, distribution of heat, sound level, and comfort level. This type of furnace is also the preferred choice when additional equipment of any type is added to the furnace heating system. The range of AFUE levels varies from 80% to 98%.
Other factors to consider when selecting a new furnace besides AFUE and BTU is the quality of the unit. Typically part failures, deterioration and cleanliness are areas that will cut the life of any furnace, so choosing a top quality unit and performing annual maintenance checks will keep your furnace operating to its full potential.
At 4 Seasons Heating, Cooling & Electrical, we offer free, on-site, no-obligation quotes on new furnaces. We will work with you to select a unit that fits your home's needs and your budget. We have packages available to make any furnace affordable and can suggest programs that may apply through Manitoba Hydro. Call us at (204) 953-5700 for more information.