New Furnace Installation

December 21st 2009
New Furnace Installation

Q: I live in an older, split-level home. I have recently replaced all the windows and I am in the process of upgrading the attic insulation. I am considering replacing the original gas-heating system. My question is: What level of efficiency should I be looking at and what brand of system would you recommend? What should I consider when installing a new furnace.

A: Your question is very timely as we are in the heating season.

To begin, I would suggest you have an energy audit done as your house may qualify for energy upgrade grants such as replacing your old furnace with a new, more-efficient heating system. Rebates are available to homeowners from the Federal ecoENERGY program.

As for choosing a furnace, go with a high-efficiency model. I would recommend a 95% efficient, variable-speed furnace. When you are in the market for a new furnace you can think of them as good, better and best!

You can find these choices in both high-efficiency (90%-plus) and mid-efficiency (80%). The best high-efficiency models will be 90% efficient or greater, will have two heat exchangers, use outside air for combustion and can be vented through an exterior wall. With a high-efficiency furnace, the higher your current energy bill, the greater your potential savings in energy and costs. As of December 31, 2009, new standards are coming into effect that will apply to residential gas furnaces sold in Canada requiring a minimum fuel efficiency level of 90%.

While the brands are comparable, when shopping for a new furnace it's very important to use a technician who is familiar with the brand and able to perform warranty work should the need arise.

The technician will help you select the proper furnace using the heat-load calculation required for your home. I would also suggest checking into a flow-through humidifier and a high-efficient filter. To increase efficiency, consider installing a motorized damper to stop the flow of cold air when the furnace is not operating. You can contact the Home Service Referral office at 604.542.2236 or toll free at 1-888-266-8806 to find a heating contractor in your area who will provide you with more information on how to qualify for grants for energy efficient upgrades.