For an electronic thermostat that runs on batteries, try changing them. If so, power may have been cut to the fan or circuit board. If those steps don't work, call a heating contractor. Despite the improved efficiency of most new furnaces, it's generally more cost-effective to repair a furnace than to replace it. However, if a key component such as the heat exchanger or control module fails, you're probably better off replacing the furnace, especially if the unit is more than about 15 years old. Furnaces typically last an average of 15 to 18 years.
Less than 20 percent of any of furnace brands we surveyed in are likely to experience a break by the third year of ownership. Each brand of furnace offers a similar array of key features, depending on price.
Examples of Modern Forced Warm Air Furnaces
The furnace features most often highlighted in product literature and sales pitches are generally the ones found on the higher-efficiency models, but some manufacturers also offer them on premium versions of low-efficiency furnaces. Variable-Speed Blowers These can deliver air slower, while often making less noise, when less heat is needed.
That produces fewer drafts and uncomfortable swings in temperature. Variable Heat Output Available on some furnaces that have a variable-speed blower, this feature can increase efficiency and comfort by automatically varying the amount of heat the furnace delivers, usually between two levels. The furnace can thus deliver heat more continuously than could one with a fixed heat output. Air Filtration Fitting a furnace with an electrostatic filter, which uses an electrical charge to help trap particles, or a high-efficiency particulate-arresting HEPA filter can reduce the amount of dust blown through the heating system.
That might help people with asthma or other chronic lung diseases, but there's little evidence that other people need such filtration. Dual Heat Exchanger Heat exchangers are the components that draw heat from the burned gas.
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To draw more heat from the air they burn, energy-efficient furnaces supplement the primary exchanger with a second exchanger. Because the exhaust gases in that second exchanger might yield a corrosive acidic condensate, the second exchanger is made of stainless steel, lined with plastic, or otherwise protected.
Ignition System Fewer and fewer furnaces have a pilot light—a flame that burns continuously, awaiting the next command to ignite the burners. Furnaces with intermittent, direct spark, or hot-surface ignition do away with the constant pilot light in various ways. That increases efficiency and is usually reflected in a furnace's higher AFUE rating.
Zoned Heating This feature uses a number of thermostats, a sophisticated central controller, and a series of dampers that control airflow to deliver different amounts of heating or cooling to different parts of the home. The larger the home, as a rule, the more useful zoning is. That's especially true if sections of the home have different heating or cooling requirements, because of wide variations in the number or type of windows, for example.
But contractors we interviewed said that furnaces connected to zoned ductwork generally require more repair. Warranty Basic, usually low efficiency, furnaces often have a shorter warranty than their premium counterparts. To heat your home and hot water, you can choose from among several energy sources. But gas is currently the most common heating fuel—most new central-heating systems use gas. Heat Pumps Heat pumps that wring heat from outdoor air and reverse the process in summer to act as an air conditioner are inexpensive to install as an alternative to a cooling-only air-conditioning system.
That makes them the preferred way to heat in the South and Southwest, where winters are typically short and mild.
Comfortable Construction: Temporary Heat in a Cold Climate
Heat pumps that wring heat from the ground are much more expensive to install, but they are suitable for cold climates because they can maintain their operating efficiency. Other inexpensive electric-heat options include strip heaters, which are installed in the ductwork of central air conditioning, and permanently installed baseboard units in each room.
But before you consider any type of electric central heating in colder regions, keep in mind that electricity rates are much higher than those for natural gas and are likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future. You can get rate information for various fuels from local utilities and suppliers.
Oil Furnaces These venerable models still retain a niche in older homes, mostly in the Northeast. We respect your privacy. All email addresses you provide will be used just for sending this story. Sign In. Become a Member. Remember Me.
Not a member? Need further assistance? Please call Member Services at Gas furnaces. Sign in or Become a Member. Gas Furnace Buying Guide. Last updated: September 16, What We Found How do most people go about buying a furnace? Gas Furnace Features Each brand of furnace offers a similar array of key features, depending on price. Gas Furnace Brands Use these profiles to compare furnaces by brand.
American Standard manufactures and markets central furnaces that are available in single and multistage configurations, with some models capable of an AFUE rating of more than 90 percent. American Standard markets units that meet Energy Star requirements and makes others that it claims offer quiet operation.
Bryant manufactures and markets gas central furnaces that are available in single and multistage configurations, with some models capable of an AFUE rating of more than 90 percent. Bryant markets units that meet Energy Star requirements and makes others that it claims offer quiet operation. A new line of hybrid heat systems that uses gas and an electric heat pump was recently introduced.
Carrier is another leading manufacturer and marketer of gas central furnaces. Carrier central furnaces are available in single and multistage configurations, with some models capable of an AFUE rating of more than Carrier markets units that meet Energy Star requirements and makes others that it claims offer quiet operation. Lennox is another leading manufacturer and marketer of gas central furnaces.
Lennox central furnaces are available in single and multistage configurations, with some models capable of an AFUE rating of more than 90 percent. Void where prohibited. Furnaces Get that warm and cozy feeling throughout your home with an American Standard furnace. About our products. Our best furnaces. Most Efficient. Platinum 95 Furnace. Customized heating and humidity control for ideal home comfort Remote monitoring and programming Up to Efficient performance Industry-changing cabinet design Quiet operation.
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