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Is It Time For A New Furnace?

A new school year brings about many new changes to schedules, activities and, even for Houston, the weather. When the temperatures start to fall, and they will eventually, many households begin considering central air maintenance or replacement. Though the weather in Houston doesn’t traditionally get cooler until late fall, it’s not too early to begin thinking about keeping your home comfortable. For those who are in the market for a new heating system, there are a few key issues that you need to be aware of during your search. Universal has put together a list of essentials to make the endeavor easier for you.

Type of System: There are basically two different kinds of central air systems; a split system and a packaged system. Most homes have a split system, which consists of a furnace and coil inside the home and a condensing unit that sits outside. A packaged system features both the heating and cooling components in one outside unit. Packaged systems are popular in homes without the extra space for the heating component. There are many variations on a packaged system,including:

A Heat Pump: This is a popular option with Houston residents as they provide efficient, economical heat in areas that experience mild winters. A heat pump is powered by electricity, but converts heat from the air outside resulting in far less energy consumption than an electric furnace. They can be combined with a traditional heater in homes that experience colder winters, but still want to save money on utilities. These versatile units can also be used in the summer to cool your home, making them ideal for certain climates.

Heat Pump or Furnace?

Type of Fuel Source: The fuel source for your furnace has less to do with efficiency and more about location. A natural gas furnace is the most common as most neighborhoods have easily-accessed pipe lines. Natural gas is also the most economical source of fuel for heaters. In homes located in more rural areas where gas lines are scarce, oil or propane furnaces are options. But these units are more expensive to operate, require more room for storage and aren’t as environmentally friendly. An electric furnace is also a viable alternative to natural gas, but they are expensive to run as well.

Gas Vs. Oil: Which is Better?

Type of Efficiency: All modern furnaces and boilers must meet minimum efficiency standards in order to comply with U.S. safety regulations. The efficiency of a unit is measured by AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency), which tabulates how much energy used by the furnace is actually converted into heating a home. The minimum efficiency a furnace must reach in order to comply is 80 percent, while the top modulating gas furnace reaches 97 percent AFUE. Of course, the models that are more efficient are generally more expensive. But the extra cost of a more efficient furnace will eventually be offset by the savings in electricity.

Variable Speed Blowers: A furnace blower draws the heat from the furnace and distributes it throughout the home. There are two different kinds of blowers available; the variable speed and the fixed speed. A fixed speed unit has a very quick cycle and won’t always offer a consistent temperature throughout the home. A variable speed unit is more intuitive, varying the speed of the air so that it is distributed with a more consistent temperature. A variable speed furnace runs more quietly than it counterpart, which will loudly turn on and off.

Buying a new furnace is a big investment – and one that you will have to live with for several years. The average life span for a typical modern furnace is 15 years, so you will want to proceed with caution. When the time comes to make your decision, give the experts at Universal a call. We’ve been helping Houston residents with their heating and cooling needs for over 20 years. We can help you find the ideal model that is the proper size for your home. We can also help with all of your installation and maintenance needs. Contact us today at (713) 364-0226 and we’ll schedule an appointment.