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Replacing Your Furnace – 3 Tips

How do you know when it’s time to replace your furnace?  Firstly, a good fact to know is that most furnaces have an expected life of about 15 to 20 years on average (National Association of Homebuilders and Bank of America)…if you’re lucky and it’s a high quality brand that’s been maintained regularly…maybe it’ll last an additional 5-6 years.  So a good general rule when trying to decide whether to fix or replace your current furnace is this: If your furnace is past the 75% mark of it’s life expectancy…and the repair cost you’re currently being quoted is greater than 33% of an outright replacement cost for a new furnace…then replace it.

One consolation on making a replacement is that the new furnace’s efficiency will be much greater…which in turn will lower your heating bills.

 

Here are three important additional factors to consider when replacing your furnace:

  • Efficiency – Most standard furnaces today average about 80% efficiency (which means that roughly 20 percent of the fuel energy dissipates immediately).  However, furnaces do exist that operate at a up to 98.5% efficiency. It’ called the AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating…and is found in the product information for the furnace.  But that level of super efficiency can add upwards of $2,000 to your furnace total cost.  So here’s the math on determining if it makes sense for you:  If your annual heating cost is $2,000… a 15% increase in AFUE (for example…from 80% up to 95%) would save you about $300 per year. If the added cost is $1,500, that’s a five-year payback, well worth the upfront cost as long as you’re staying put for the next, say, eight to 10 years to net a profit on the expense.
  • Air Ducts –  can be a major source of heat loss & inefficiency.  One third of the heated air passing through the ducts can easily escape into the attic, crawlspace, or basement.  An HVAC contractor …or an air duct specialist…can improve the old ducts by removing the insulation, taping up gaps, and re-insulating.  Another option is to hire an Aeroseal contractor to seal your ducts by spraying a high-tech substance inside the ducts that congeals around openings to create a rubbery seal over every single gap and crack. This method can even seal small openings that are inaccessible to a repair technician. The process costs $500 to $1,500 and could slash your heating (and cooling) bills by 20%—possibly a better return on investment than the high-efficiency furnace.
  • Insulation –  This may be an even better option than purchasing a super-efficient furnace…add insulation to your home or commercial building. An energy audit is probably the best place to start because many states or utility companies offer free or subsidized price programs aimed at saving energy.  Audit recommendations may include:  adding attic-floor insulation or spraying foam along the top of the foundation walls (perhaps $500 each), or even blowing insulation into the walls ($2,000 to $5,000 ).  Your heating and air conditioning costs can be cut 5% to 25%.

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