Should you buy a new furnace, and what do you need to know before you do? Learn about the benefits of high-efficiency furnaces, the length of time and costs involved with installing them, and how you should maintain your new heating equipment once you have it to ensure that it keeps saving you money each year.
Furnaces can make staying comfortable throughout Nebraska’s changing seasons much easier—since they provide efficient heating capabilities for your home. But getting an efficient furnace means buying one that’s the right size for your home and taking care of it with proper maintenance—so where should you begin?
We’ve installed, repaired, and provided furnace repairs throughout Lincoln, NE—so we know all about what to consider when buying one. Keep reading to find out how furnaces work, how to buy one that will fit your home, what it will cost, and more.
How Does a Furnace Work?
Furnaces typically use natural gas, oil, or electricity to heat air, which is then circulated throughout your home via ductwork and dispersed into your room through supply ducts.
How the Heating Cycle Works:
- The thermostat detects a drop in temperature and sends a signal to the furnace.
- The furnace burner ignites the fuel (in gas or oil furnaces) and transfers thermal energy to the heat exchanger. In electric furnaces, a heating element in the heat exchanger warms the air directly.
- The blower motor engages, pushing air across the heat exchanger.
- The warm air travels through the ductwork and is distributed throughout your home.
- The furnace shuts off once the desired temperature is reached.
What to Consider When Buying a Furnace
Replacing your old furnace with a new high-efficiency model can lower the costs of maintaining a comfortable temperature in your home, especially during cold Nebraska winters. But getting the right furnace for your home means considering a few key factors:
Sizing Your Furnace
Any new furnace you purchase should be energy efficient for your space. A furnace’s AFUE, or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, is a measure used to rate its efficiency by dividing the amount of heat output of a furnace by the total energy consumed by the furnace in a year (represented as a percentage).
For example, an AFUE of 90% means that 90% of the fuel’s energy is being converted to heat for your home, while the other 10% escapes as exhaust or remains unburned. The higher the AFUE percentage, the more efficient the furnace is at converting fuel into heat.
In addition to AFUE, accurately sizing a furnace is a complex process that must also account for:
- The square footage of the area in your home that needs heating
- Your home’s R-value (which refers to its insulation, or how easily heat can enter and leave)
- The height of your home’s ceilings
- The number of windows and doors in your home
… and more.
Since sizing a furnace is such a delicate process, it should always be done by one of our professionals. When you ask Star City to install your furnace, your technician will perform a load calculation called the Manual-J to determine your home’s precise heating needs and recommend a furnace that fits.
Frequently Asked Questions about Buying Furnaces in Nebraska
Will a Furnace Provide Enough Heat During Nebraska’s Winters?
Absolutely. Modern high-efficiency furnaces can provide plenty of heat—even during the coldest Nebraska winters. Our furnaces are designed with advanced features that ensure efficient operation and robust heat production.
What Kinds of Furnaces Are There?
There are three major types of furnaces:
- Oil Furnaces: These furnaces are more commonly found in rural regions that do not have access to natural gas lines. They heat homes faster than other types and can sometimes be more cost-effective to run than electric furnaces (depending on utility rates) but more expensive than natural gas models.
- Gas Furnaces: These furnaces offer excellent energy efficiency and relatively low running costs. They usually heat the home faster than electric furnaces but slightly slower than oil models. They’re ideal for homes in towns and cities that already have natural gas lines.
- Electric Furnaces: These furnaces use electric heating elements to heat the air directly. They are often among the most cost-effective models to install up front and can be extremely energy efficient—however, their running costs may still be higher than gas or oil furnaces due to Nebraska’s electricity costs.
How Much Do Furnaces Cost in 2023?
The cost of your new furnace will depend on:
- Its efficiency (AFUE)
- How accessible the installation area is (hard-to-reach places can drive up our time and labor costs)
- Whether your ductwork needs to be upgraded to accommodate your new furnace
- The type of furnace (oil, gas, or electric)
How Long Does Installing a Furnace Take?
Installing a furnace can generally be done in less than one business day, but every home is different. We’ll give you a timeline for your installation when you buy your new furnace from us, based on factors like:
- The type and size of furnace we’re installing
- The condition of your ductwork
- The labor required to access the installation location
We always do our best to provide accurate information on how long installations will take. If we encounter any factors that will increase the length of time required to install your furnace, we’ll tell you ASAP so you can plan ahead.
How Long Will My Furnace Last?
On average, furnaces should last from 15 to 20 years—although they can last up to or over 25 years with proper care. Maintenance, usage habits, and installation quality are all major factors in determining a given furnace’s lifespan.
Always make sure your furnace is serviced by licensed HVAC professionals and follow the recommendations in your owner’s manual to help it last as long as possible.
What Maintenance Do Furnaces Need?
There are a few things you can do by yourself to keep your furnace healthy. These include:
- Changing your air filters regularly
- Keeping the area around your furnace clean and unobstructed
- Checking your thermostat to make sure it has power and is set to the right temperature
You should also arrange for annual professional heating tune-ups—usually during the fall, before cold weather arrives. Star City’s heating tune-ups include:
- Checking all gas & electrical connections
- Testing your blower’s performance
- Lubricating all moving parts
- Inspecting and cleaning your furnace’s burner
- Calibrating your thermostat controls
- A comprehensive multi-point safety inspection
Do not attempt to tamper with your furnace’s fuel or electrical components. This can be unsafe and can also void your heating equipment’s warranty. Always call our professionals for help with these tasks.
What Are the Signs My Furnace Needs Service?
Signs your furnace might need professional service include:
- Inconsistent or insufficient heating
- Unusual noises or smells coming from the unit
- Rising energy bills (despite no change in usage)
- Frequent cycling on and off
- Yellow or flickering burner flame (this can indicate incomplete combustion in gas furnaces and potentially cause a carbon monoxide leak)
- Inconsistent thermostat readings
If you’re experiencing any of these issues, give us a call right away so that we can diagnose the issue before it becomes worse (and potentially more expensive to fix).
Buying the Right Furnace for Your Nebraska Home
Understanding how furnaces work, what factors affect their efficiency, and the work involved in correctly sizing one for your home will help you purchase a unit you can count on for comfort during Nebraska’s chilly winters. Get recommendations on furnaces that will work for your specific heating needs by contacting Star City Heating & Cooling. We’ll help you choose the best model for your home, provide you with a quote, and answer any additional questions you have.