A furnace is a household appliance that's built to last. The experts say that a furnace should last anywhere between 15 to 20 years, and some give it an even wider range of between 13 and 25 years. That means that you'll probably only have occasion to completely replace a furnace a handful of times during your years of homeownership, and when it is time to replace your furnace, you may not be aware of the latest features that have been added since you bought your last one. If it's finally time to replace the old furnace in your home, take a look at some of the best modern furnace features that you'll want to be on the lookout for.
Variable Heat Output
Your old furnace may have only two settings: off and on. That means that when it's on, it's operating at full capacity, regardless of how much heat you actually need. On days when it's cold enough to need some heat, but not so cold that you need all the heat your furnace can produce, you may find that the house gets uncomfortably hot. You're using more fuel and paying for more energy than you really need for the weather.
Newer furnaces offer variable heat output. They produce less heat on days that are less cold and more heat on days that are colder. Variable heat output comes in a few different forms. When you see a furnace described as having two-stage heating, it means that it has one high heat setting and one low heat setting. An even more customizable form of variable heat output is offered by a furnace with a modulating gas valve. Instead of just two heat settings, you'll be able to choose from a range of temperatures. Depending on the make and model, you could have access to between three and thirteen different heat stages. You'll have to have a thermostat installed that's compatible with your choice of furnace in order to access all of the available stages.
New furnaces also often come with variable speed blowers, so that the heated air can travel into the room with more or less force depending on how much heat is needed. Not only can this feature save money and energy, it means that when less heat is needed, you won't have to hear the blower going at full speed.
Speaking of furnaces that can provide customized heat, a furnace that comes with a zoning system can help you more fully customize your household heating so that you get the heat you need without paying for or using more than you need.
Essentially, your home will be divided into different temperature zones and you can set the temperature that you like in each of them. Want to leave it a little cooler in the kitchen while you're running the oven and stove, but keep the living room toasty and warm? You can do that. Want to turn off the heat in the upstairs bedrooms during the day when everyone is hanging out downstairs? You can do that too. You save money because you only pay to heat the rooms that you actually want heated at the time.
You can have your heating system upgraded to a zoned system even if you're not replacing your furnace, but if your furnace needs to be replaced anyway, it makes sense to include zoning in the installation.
Older furnaces usually have a pilot light system. The pilot light stays on and burns continuously, which means that it's burning fuel even when you're not using the heater. A newer and more efficient feature is the electronic ignition, sometimes called the intermittent ignition.
The point of an electronic ignition is that it's on-demand – it only comes on when you need it to and it doesn't need to burn fuel continuously. You'll save fuel and money by choosing a furnace with this feature over one with a constantly burning pilot light.
It's always a good idea to have your home evaluated by a reputable heating contractor, such as those at HomeSmart From Xcel Energy, to find out what kind of furnace will best meet your household needs. That way, you can be sure that you're purchasing a furnace that's right for you.