Choosing the Most Cost-Effective Furnace for Your Home

by Gina Blitstein · 1 comment

As the Northern Hemisphere enters the warmest time of year, not many thoughts are on home heating solutions. If you’re in need of a new furnace, however, this may be the “hot” time to buy. The off-season may create an incentive for some heating contractors to offer furnaces at especially attractive prices.

Furnaces are not something we buy frequently because they generally last for decades. It’s a good idea, then, to educate yourself on the latest intel about furnaces when the time comes to make this major purchase. Here are some considerations to bear in mind when evaluating furnaces:

Appropriate Size

Since most new central-heating systems use gas, which has proven to be a most efficient home-heating fuel, I’ll concentrate on gas units.

Bigger furnaces are obviously capable of making more heat but a furnace that’s too large for your home’s particular needs wastes energy – and money. A furnace that’s too large for your home will cycle on and off too often, causing ineffective heat distribution. This is because heat will build up within the furnace, triggering the heating element to cycle off before the heated air can be distributed throughout the house. The constant cycling on and off also causes wear and tear on components. Consider your ductwork, too: If your ducts are smaller than they should be for the size of the furnace, airflow through them will prove inefficient and noisy.

By the same token, a furnace that’s too small won’t do the job for which it was hired.

To determine the right size furnace for your home, it’s best to leave it to the professionals. A reputable contractor will calculate your home’s furnace specifications using an industry standard, such as is found in “Manual J HVAC Residential Load Calculation” of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America. These calculations take into consideration your climate and the size, layout and construction of your house.


A furnace’s efficiency is represented by its AFUE (Annual Fuel-Utilization-Efficiency) rating. Represented as a percentage, the higher the number, the more heat the furnace can create from each therm of gas.

While generally speaking, the higher a furnace’s efficiency rating, the higher its purchase price, it’s possible to recover that additional cost over the life of the furnace through the lower fuel bills you’ll enjoy.

Compare and Contrast Your Choices

Ask your contractor to use the tools at his disposal (which take into account each furnace’s efficiency and energy consumption, local utility rates and the particulars of your home) to calculate the estimated operating costs of a variety of furnaces in a range of efficiencies. Consider that information as you choose among units, as well as any additional costs that may arise, such as changes to venting that may need to be made.

Do Your Research

You can do a lot on your own to help in the decision-making process. Look online for furnace ratings, service issues or equipment defects that may pertain to the units you’re evaluating. Get in-person recommendations from neighbors who may have a similar-sized home or one that’s built in a similar style to yours.


Look for furnaces with an EnergyStar rating which ensures higher energy efficiency and higher efficiency blower motors than non-qualified models. Based on the efficiency of the unit you purchase, you may qualify for rebates from your natural gas provider and tax incentives from government entities.

Consider all this information when purchasing a new furnace for your home. While it’s an expensive appliance, choosing wisely will save you money in the long run.

You should check out the home promotions we have to find more savings, but how criteria do you use when choosing a furnace?

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

ed ostler August 19, 2012 at 6:05 am


I currently have an open fireplace with a ” metters ” fire grate. This is an inefficient form of heating so I am considering installing a slow combustion wood burner. I am somewhat limited in the size of my fireplace and wish the stove to look attractive as well as being very effective. Can you offer me any advixe?


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