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5 Tips for Choosing a Furnace With a Small Ecological Footprint

The modern homeowner has to make more decisions to make based on the state of the world than ever before. It’s no longer enough to just keep your yard trimmed and your paint fresh. You need to keep the ecological footprint of your household in mind when making any major decisions. Adding solar panels, cutting back on water usage, and mindfully reducing energy usage can all make a difference, but if you really want to shrink your carbon footprint, you need to address your furnace.

Depending on how much you use it, your HVAC system may contribute a large portion to your carbon footprint. By replacing an older unit with a new, small footprint furnace, you can reduce your environmental impact substantially. Of course, it’s one thing to just say you need to install a new furnace and another matter entirely actually to go out and do it. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. With more than seven decades of experience meeting our Vancouver neighbors’ HVAC needs, we’re ready to guide you through the process. Here are five things you need to know when choosing a greener furnace.

1. Focus Your Search on Newer Models

Furnace technology, much like technology at large, has advanced exponentially in the last few years. If you’ve been living with an old, worn-down furnace, you may be surprised to hear about the leaps and bounds that have been made in the HVAC field. You don’t even need to break the bank and get the most expensive, top-of-the-line model. Compared to your parents’ HVAC system, any of today’s models are all small footprint furnaces. By focusing on these more recent models, you’ll narrow your search to those with the smallest carbon footprint possible.

2. Heating Efficiency Is Key to Your Footprint

Footprint cut out of paper on grass background.

There are many factors that go into determining the carbon footprint of your furnace, but the most important one is its energy efficiency. More efficient furnaces require less energy to provide the same amount of heat as lower-efficiency models. Within the industry, this ratio is known as the annualized fuel utilization efficiency, or AFUE. The AFUE of a furnace will tell you exactly what percentage of the energy consumed goes toward heating your house, versus how much is lost in the process.

For example, a furnace with an AFUE of 70 will put 70 percent of the energy consumed directly into heating your home, while one with an AFUE of 95 will put 95 percent of the energy consumed back into your home as heating. While it is true that newer furnaces are more energy efficient than older ones, it’s still important to know exactly how energy efficient any furnace in particular is when considering it for your home. Some furnaces even offer a rate of nearly 99 percent. If you want a small footprint furnace, the higher the AFUE the better.

3. Look for the ENERGY STAR Seal of Approval

In keeping with climate initiatives, the federal government developed the ENERGY STAR certification to recognize home appliances that meet the standards set by experts to reduce energy consumption and benefit our environment. These units meet a minimum 95 percent AFUE rating and utilize higher efficiency blower motors, making them leaps and bounds more efficient than just any old furnace. When you install an ENERGY STAR–certified furnace, you can trust that you have one of the most energy-efficient models on the market.

Of course, buying the best and most advanced furnace won’t always come cheap. It’s important to acknowledge the fact that they can cost a bit more than other models on the market, but don’t let the price discourage you. Think of it more as an investment. A higher-efficiency furnace will consume less energy over time, reducing your energy usage—and by extension, your bill—greatly over time. Some states even offer a rebate program for replacing older appliances with ENERGY STAR certified ones, helping to offset the purchase and installation cost. When it comes to small footprint furnaces, you can’t go wrong with ENERGY STAR.

4. Don’t Forget to Shore Up Your Home Insulation

A small footprint furnace will go a long way toward reducing your household carbon emissions, but by providing it with adequate support, you can shrink your impact even further. Improper or insufficient insulation can let heat leak out of your home, causing even the most efficient of furnaces to consume more energy to maintain your desired home climate.

While you’re considering a small footprint furnace for your home, it’s wise to also assess your current insulation. A Home Performance test could help you determine any problem areas.

You could spend all the money in the world on the most efficient furnace on the market, but without proper insulation, it won’t be able to do its best work. You need to view your home’s HVAC not like a group of disparate appliances but as one holistic system. A high-efficiency furnace working in tandem with ideal insulation can significantly reduce your carbon, sending you on your way to a greener home.

5. Consider Getting a Smart Thermostat

Even the most advanced furnace is still simply a tool in need of direction. If you’re planning to upgrade to a small footprint furnace, it’s not a bad idea to also integrate a smart thermostat into your home as well. A smart thermostat can help you efficiently use your home HVAC with minimal micromanagement, allowing the device to do most of the thinking and adjusting on your behalf. It’s a learning system, designed to minimize your carbon footprint based on how you live your life.

Is everyone at work or school during the day? Your thermostat can adjust its directive to the furnace accordingly, reducing or even cutting out operation. Are certain rooms unoccupied for long stretches of time? The thermostat can adjust the flow of air to only heat rooms with people in them. Working in tandem with a high-efficiency furnace, a smart thermostat can act with surgical precision and shrink your footprint even more.

Ready to take the leap? Have more questions? Let us know. Whether you’re ready to ditch your old furnace or still need more advice, Entek is ready to help however we can.

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