New Standards for Furnace Installation

October 26th 2009
New Standards for Furnace Installation

New standards are coming into effect that will apply to residential gas furnaces sold in Canada requiring a minimum fuel efficiency level of 90%. The new national minimum energy performance standard will go into effect on December 31, 2009. Installation of a high efficiency condensing gas furnace means a fuel consumption and cost reduction of about 12% when compared to furnaces at the current standard. The amount saved on your energy bill will depend on the house size and heat loss. In addition to these savings, the installation may be eligible for an ecoEnergy Retrofit grant from the federal government and complementary provincial programs in some parts of the country. Additional financial assistance may be available through the home renovation tax credit that was introduced in the federal budget early in 2009.

The first-time installation of a high efficiency gas furnace typically requires changes to the venting system. This level of efficiency is achieved by using "condensing technology", where the products of combustion are vented through a plastic pipe, most commonly routed through a side wall. In some cases, hot water heater venting alterations may be necessary as well. There may be some situations, however, where through-wall venting can be more complex. Examples include narrow, attached houses with front and rear obstructions, closely spaced doorways and large windows or full-width porches and/or decks. If your house is narrow and attached to neighbouring dwellings (on both sides), and your current gas furnace is more than 15 years old, you should consider consulting with a licensed heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) professional who will assess your specific situation. It is essential to choose the Right Size of Air Conditioner, Furnace, Heat Pump or Boiler to Fit Your Home.

What to Consider When Installing a New Furnace.
When considering adding or replacing air conditioning or heating to your home, ensure you hire an installation contractor who will treat your house as a complete system addressing ventilation and "size" the system properly. A qualified contractor will not recommend equipment size based solely on the size of your home or assume that your existing equipment was sized properly in the first place. Be sure to also tell your contractor if you plan to renovate in the near future. Changing windows, upgrading insulation levels, finishing the basement, air-sealing or a new addition will impact the sizing calculation for any new system.

There is only one correct size of furnace for your home.
Not only will a unit that is too big turn on and off more often, which is annoying but over-sizing equipment can result in increased fuel consumption and higher operating costs which is inefficient and can contribute to premature part failure, higher noise levels and reduced comfort (hot or cold spots within the home). Hire a contractor that has the appropriate skills to perform a "heat loss and heat gain calculation" based on professional guidelines, to calculate the proper size of heating and cooling equipment that your home requires. Do not agree to a simple "rule of thumb" calculation (e.g., X amount of BTUs per square foot). Be sure to request a "heat loss and heat gain calculation" as part of your purchase process. To complete the heat load calculation, the contractor will need to take measurements during the initial visit to your home and ask some questions.

They also consider:
-  Local climate conditions
-  Size and number of windows that let in heat from the sun
-  Existing insulation levels of the home
-  Number and lifestyle of your home's occupants
-  Predicted or known air exchange rate of home

When a contractor completes the heat loss and heat-gain calculation and determines your needs, be sure to purchase the right equipment, and not stock that the contractor happens to have sitting on the truck or back at the shop.

To find a qualified contractor in your area contact 604-542-2236 or visit