Factors To Consider When Choosing A Furnace

Choosing a new furnace is a big decision. Most people have a certain budget but still need to make the decision that is in the best interest of their household. There are several factors to consider when choosing a furnace.

Fuel Source

There are furnaces that can accept a range of fuel sources. You will want to make your choice based on which fuel is accessible and offers reasonable monthly energy costs. Your options are gas, electric, oil, and propane. Each has its own benefits and pitfalls. The upfront costs will be a factor, but often a higher upfront cost results in lower monthly usage costs. For example, natural gas furnaces are a popular option. Their installation is among the most expensive, but their monthly usage costs tend to be lower because this fuel source is highly efficient. If you already have a gas line in your home, the higher upfront costs of a gas furnace may be a better decision because you are already using this fuel source.

An electric furnace is the most straightforward to install and generally has a more affordable upfront cost — but its usage is more expensive. Both oil and propane can be efficient options, but one of the pitfalls is you need regular fuel deliveries and it is not always easy to estimate how much fuel you will need. Once the fuel runs out, you can no longer heat your home until you can afford fuel and have it delivered. This is never an issue with natural gas or electric options.


Much like air conditioning, furnaces have different staging. There are single and two-stage furnaces, and there are also modulating furnaces. A single-stage furnace is the most common and more affordable option, but it is also the least efficient. Single-stage furnaces have only two options, it is either on or off. Two-stage furnaces can operate at high or low levels. When the two-stage furnace is operating at a high level, it is working just like a single-stage furnace, however, at the lower level it is heating your home with less intensity. This lower level is excellent on chilly days when major heating is not necessary. Since a two-stage furnace is able to operate at different levels, it works better at keeping your home at a consistent temperature than its single-stage counterparts. A modulating furnace is the most efficient option because when it is on, it can run at three stages. This allows even more flexibility in how much your furnace works to heat your home in varying weather conditions.


There are several factors involved in choosing the size of the furnace you need. Furnaces are measured in terms of British thermal units (BTUs). First, you will need to consider the square footage of your home. You can work with a contractor to determine to correct number of BTUs to aim for per square foot of your home. Household size is not the only factor, your climate is another. There are zoning charts you can use to help you decide the size of your furnace. Households in colder climates will need more BTUs per square foot, upwards of twice as many in extremely cold climates. Appropriately sizing the unit is critical to keep your home at an appropriate temperature while not placing an unnecessary burden on the furnace. A furnace with too few BTUs will have a hard time heating your home and it will reduce the lifespan of the furnace.

Choosing a furnace is a major decision because it will influence your comfort for decades to come. Finding the most efficient and cost-effective option will make heating your home more affordable. For help with your furnace installation, contact an HVAC contractor in your area.