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How to choose the right furnace for you?

Top 10 Tips for picking the right furnace for your home.

Simple changes can create huge impact to make you save more money as your home become more energy efficient.

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Save Money.

It costs less with a High Efficiency furnace.

Increase Comfort Level.

New furnaces better maintain the temperature, humidity, air quality and air flow in your home.

Save the Environment.

Higher Efficiency leads to reduced energy usage leading to lowering the impact on global warming, as much as 20% annual reduction

Know when it is time to replace your furnace.

Sometimes a furnace simply needs a good cleaning and a little maintenance to get it in full working order. But, sometimes it is going to cost more to fix the problem than to replace the entire unit. Certain telltale signs indicate it's time to consider replacing your heating equipment, or improving the performance of your overall system. 

It may be time to call a professional contractor like Alberta Indoor Comfort to help you make a change if:

  • the furnace is old.
  • the furnace needs frequent repairs
  • your energy bills are going up
  • you see signs of corrosion
  • you were told that your heat exchanger is cracked

1. Your furnace is OLD.

The average lifespan of a furnace is between 10 and 15 years. If it is more than 15 years old, it may be more cost-effective to purchase a new one rather than repair the old one. A new furnace is also going to be much more energy-efficient than one that is 10 or 15 years old.

2. Your furnace needs frequent repairs.

If you are frequently calling in a professional to repair your furnace, it may be time to say goodbye to your old unit. A furnace that regularly needs repairs and maintenance is going to cost you more over time than the purchase price of a new one. If you are concerned about the cost of a new furnace, Alberta Indoor Comfort offers specials and discounts from time to time to help you save. Financing is also available to make the cost of a new furnace more manageable.

3. Your energy bills are going up.

Are your energy bills on the rise? Although the price of oil can fluctuate and might be higher some seasons than in others due to supply and demand, another reason why your energy bills might be increasing is that your furnace is working harder to keep your home comfortable.

As a furnace begins to age, it may begin cycling off and on more often or unevenly heating rooms — such as overheating the master bedroom but leaving your living room feeling frigid. Older furnaces also have a lower annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratio than newer, more energy-efficient models. The AFUE rating measures how much of the energy used is turned into heat for the home. A furnace with a 90% AFUE ratio converts 90% of fuel energy into heat. The remaining 10% might be lost in the ductwork or up the chimney. Your furnace might display its AFUE rating — newer models are required to. A certified technician can also measure the AFUE for you when they service the equipment. If your unit’s AFUE is under 80 percent, it is probably time to start looking for a replacement.

4. You see signs of corrosion.

When an older model furnace begins to die, homeowners often report that they find rust on or around their furnace. They may also see cracks or corrosion on or around the unit. Sometimes an old furnace may put out dust, dirt, soot or rust particles into other areas of the house. Many homeowners also report that they start having humidity problems in their house.

5. Your have a cracked heat exchanger.

A cracked exchanger is a serious issue as it impacts your short wellbeing, long term wellness and your insurance.  Read below for more information on this confusing yet critical item.

Understand Your Existing Furnace

Fuel Type

  • Most Albertans have a natural gas fired furnace
  • Some use propane furnaces, which is equivalent to natural gas
  • Some use oil for fuel, a technology that was prevalent before natural gas became easily available
  • Some use electricity to generate the heat

Furnace OR Fancoil

  • Furnace - most residential heating is done with a single unit, meaning that heat generation (for transfer into the air) takes place within the furnace unit – gas, oil or electricity
  • Fancoil – in some instances, the heat source is in another location as for example gas/electric/solar water heater, geothermal heat pump or waste heat recovery; in this case, the “furnace” is actually an air blower which has a coil (radiator) connected to water pipes connected to the original heat source, thus providing indirect heating to the flowing air.

Common Types of Furnaces

Gravity Furnace

Very old furnace technology, utilized heat rise and cold air fall for the heat to get to your rooms.

Mid Efficiency Furnace

Newer technology, with a single heat exchanger which new delivered between 70-80% of the input energy to your home.

High Efficiency Furnace

New and proven technology, with a two heat exchangers which new deliver between up to 97% of the input energy to your home.

Key Components

Sizing Your Furnace Requires Heat Calculations

As furnace and building technology (eg. insulation) changed, Alberta Indoor Comfort prepares heat calculations to show you and the municipal inspector, ie. city inspector, that the furnace is correctly sized for your needs.  Make sure you that you keep a copy of the furnace sizing calculations.

Beyond features, an overview benefits for you

not the furnace features or the technician’s preference.

Consider your likes:  Quiet ?  Blast of heat ?  Little temperature variations ?  Quick response to our Chinooks ?  See our summary chart arranged to help you select the right investment.

Need more information ?  Read more details below or contact Alberta Indoor Comfort for a complementary consultation.

Top 10 Tips For Picking The Right Furnace For You

One of the things that should be at the top of your home maintenance to-do list is servicing your home’s heater. In the course of servicing your furnace, you may discover that it is not operating the way it used to. It might not be putting out the level of heat you need, or maybe it is not heating at all. Perhaps last winter’s energy bills drained your wallet and left you wanting to figure out an alternative this year. Here is how to know if it is time to replace your furnace and what look for when purchasing a new one.

If it is time for a new furnace, it is easy to become overwhelmed by all of the choices out there. Protect yourself from option overload by considering your home and your needs — this should narrow the choices. Once you have these in mind, selecting the right unit will not be such a daunting task.

1. Fuel Source

You may buy furnaces that run on natural gas, propane, oil, or electricity in today's market. The most straightforward option is to acquire a furnace that works with the existing heating system in your home. A natural gas-powered furnace will not function if your home does not have gas lines. However, changing your home's system at the same time as purchasing a new furnace is the ideal way to go about it if you've been considering moving to a more efficient fuel source. You don't want to invest in one furnace only to have it change in a year or two when your home's fuel source changes. Natural gas-powered furnaces are now usually acknowledged as the most energy-efficient alternative, so if you already have gas lines or are willing to convert your home to natural gas, you will save money on your energy bills. 

2. Type of system

An integrated system, which includes both heat and air conditioning is used in some residences. Other homes feature a split system, which separates the heating and cooling systems. Not only do you need to know the systems you have, but you also need to determine whether you want to keep it that way or change how your home's heating and cooling systems work. You may have already a split system, but now you want to integrate heating and air conditioning into one system to save space in your home. Alternatively, if you have the space, you may be able to divide them and maintain two independent systems.

Air conditioning system upgrade

3. Type of unit

After you have decided on the fuel you will use and the type of system you will run, you will need to consider the various models available for each. If your furnace will run on oil, for example, you can select between upflow, horizontal, downflow, or waste oil versions. Each model relies on oil to run the system, although the mechanics vary depending on the model. These types also come in a variety of sizes, so you will need to think about the size of the room where the furnace will be installed, as well as your current home setup. A trained and certified technician from Alberta Indoor Comfort can visit your home to perform an energy consultation and help you choose the type of furnace that will best meet your needs.

4. Zoning

Everyone has experienced a home in which certain rooms were constantly warm while others were freezing. This is a regular occurrence when your entire home is controlled by a single thermostat. Recent advancements in home heating have sparked interest in zone heating, which involves programming your heating system to perform differently in different parts of your house. Zoning is performed by installing separate thermostats in various areas of your home and installing a series of dampers within your home's heating ducts to block off heat to certain areas while improving heat flow to others as needed. If you have this setup or if you plan to upgrade, It should be considered when choosing a furnace.

5. Cost

Most homeowners are probably concerned about the costs of a new furnace. When deciding which furnace to buy, it is important to keep an eye on the price, but don't get too caught up in it. You should also consider the cost of installation and other furnace accessories, as well as any fees involved with switching your home's fuel source or connecting a new furnace to an older system. A furnace's price will differ depending on its efficiency rating, size, and indoor air quality features. While we never encourage spending more than you can afford, we do suggest selecting the option that is best for your budget, needs, and lifestyle. Spending more money upfront might often mean obtaining a superior unit that will last you and your family a long time. One method to make the cost of a new furnace more reasonable is to finance it, rather than paying in a lump sum, you may stretch payments out over several months or years.

6. Size

When buying a new furnace, make sure that it is the right size for your home. It is possible that a furnace that is too small for your home won't be able to deliver enough heat. A furnace that is too large can also be a problem. When a comfort advisor comes out to give you a quote, they can calculate what size unit you need for your home. The assessment considers more than just your home's square footage. It also considers other elements such as the efficiency of your windows and other factors.

7. Quality of installation

It is just as essential who you choose to install your new furnace as it is what you purchase. To run as efficiently as possible, a furnace must be correctly installed. Always work with home experts who have a track record of producing quality results. Alberta Indoor Comfort advisors are certified, rest assured they will perform the installation properly and will be available to answer any questions you might have.

8. Constant variable speed blowers and Indoor Air Quality

There are two types of blowers in furnaces such as fixed-speed and variable-speed blowers. Variable-speed blowers are better because they perform exactly what their name implies. They adjust the pace at which heat is blasted into each room of your home. This keeps the heat consistent from room to room while also being quiet than a fixed-speed blower. A furnace's blower type is important, but it is also vital to understand how it will affect the quality of the air inside your home. The blower is responsible for distributing the warm air produced by your furnace throughout your home. It does so by blowing air through a series of ducts built into your home's walls. If your furnace does not have an effective air filtering system, dust and allergens may be blown down the ducts and into the rooms. To maintain the air quality in your house, change the air filters on your furnace twice a year. Make sure your heating and conditioning experts inspect these filters every time your furnace is serviced and starting with the initial installation. You may change these filters in between routine maintenance and rest easy knowing your air is clean. 

9. Service agreement

A new furnace is an investment that will help keep your house comfortable and warm for many years to come. Purchasing an Alberta Indoor Comfort service agreement for your new equipment is one method to preserve your investment. A service agreement entitles you to one free furnace check and tune-up per year. Parts and repairs are also covered under the agreement. Alberta Indoor Comfort technicians will repair or replace various sections of the furnace if they become damaged as a result of normal wear and tear. Along with financing, a service agreement is another way to make your new furnace more affordable.

10. Rebates and incentives

If you want to buy a high-efficiency furnace, you can check https://www.albertacleanair.com/ to see if you qualify for any incentives or discounts. Check with https://www.albertacleanair.com/ and talk to our service experts to see what programs your furnace might be eligible for.

Cracked heat exchanger, "Red Tag"

What does it mean? What should you do?

In Alberta, your service expert does not have the right to red-tag and turn off your furnace, as may be common practice in other provinces.  If you choose to not correct the crack, the service expert has to report your faulty exchanger to the representative of Alberta’s Municipal Affairs, your local safety codes officer.  This is because CSA B149.1 Natural Gas Code stipulates that “where the heat exchanger of a furnace installed in a dwelling unit is found to be defective, it shall be replaced.”  Many might advise you that if there is no carbon monoxide leak, you do not have to act…wrong, wrong, wrong.  The Gas Code is specific – replace or repair.  For the code, even a hairline crack is a crack. Exchangers may be repaired using approved repair procedures, but the related costs are typically not worth your investment.   

For more details, see www.alberta.ca/municipal-affairs.aspx  Also, per www.alberta.ca/insurance-legislation-orders-agreements.aspx the insured persons or parties must promptly give written notice to their insurer of a change that is material to the risk and within their control and knowledge (eg. notice from service expert) if the risk has not been eliminated;  failure to notify your insurer, may void your insurance contract and leave you exposed;  after your notification, the insurer may terminate the coverage or meaningfully raise your premium. 

Do the right thing, BE SAFE !

At Alberta Indoor Comfort, we use sophisticated instrumentation, including combustion analyzers and borescope cameras to assess the integrity of your furnace. Happy to show you all we do, just ask our service experts.

Consult with Alberta Indoor Comfort for your heating needs!

The right furnace is a must-have for your home’s total comfort. Alberta Indoor Comfort is committed to providing Calgary and Southern Alberta homes with the equipment they need to stay comfortable. We can help you decide whether it’s time to get a new furnace or if your existing equipment needs some attention. 

Contact Alberta Indoor Comfort today to schedule an in-home energy consultation and to get started improving the warmth and overall comfort of your home.