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Are There Disadvantages of High-Efficiency Furnaces?

When you’re looking to buy a new furnace, picking one is usually not a simple decision. You want to make sure you choose the best possible option. And now there are more varieties to choose from than ever before. This includes high-efficiency furnaces. They might seem perfect on paper, but are there any downsides you should know about before buying one? After all, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Read on to find out about the disadvantages of high-efficiency furnaces and see whether or not they’re the right furnace choice for you.

What Are High-efficiency Furnaces?

Furnaces heat air using fuel, electricity, or both, and then move the heat through ducts and, ultimately, throughout your house. High-efficiency furnaces are better at transferring the heat generated into your house, with as little air wasted as possible. They require less energy to run than traditional furnaces.

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In the United States, the Department of Energy rating for furnaces is known as the annual fuel utilization efficiency. Decades’ old furnaces have ratings of around 60 percent. But nowadays, a furnace must have an AFUE rating of at least 80 percent, so that’s what most traditional furnaces have. That means that you will likely get a more efficient furnace than your former unit no matter which type you buy. High-efficiency furnaces usually have at least 90 percent, and some even go up to 98.5 percent.

High-efficiency furnaces also don’t rely on a pilot light. In some other furnaces, pilot lights are always on, meaning that they use up even more energy.

Disadvantages of High-Efficiency Furnaces

The major disadvantage of high-efficiency furnaces is that they’re more expensive upfront than regular furnaces. And the price difference between those furnace options can be quite extreme. Many high-efficiency furnaces cost twice as much as traditional gas furnaces, and others are even more expensive than that.

Another disadvantage of high-efficiency furnaces is that the cost of installation will also be much more expensive. So, combined with the price of the unit itself, the expenses for this more efficient furnace option will add up. This is because high-efficiency furnaces are more difficult to install, as they’re more complex than traditional furnaces.

When installing a home’s first high-efficiency furnace, a contractor will also have additional parts. These are necessary to accommodate the way these furnaces work. First, high-efficiency furnaces will need a different type of ventilation system than traditional furnaces. Because they use sealed combustion, the contractor will add PVC pipes in place of the traditional metal pipes. Otherwise, the exhaust from a high-efficiency furnace will corrode the metal. And because these furnaces will produce condensation, they also need drains. While prices vary, the vents and drains could add on extra hundreds of dollars.

Where you want your furnace to be installed can also put high-efficiency furnaces at a disadvantage. So if you’re putting the new furnace in a vented space, an 80 percent AFUE-rated furnace might be your better choice. Especially if you want to avoid any extra construction with the installation.

Some high-efficiency furnaces will also have more demanding maintenance needs than traditional furnaces. In general, with any type of furnace, you should definitely turn to a professional for maintenance services.

Advantages of High-Efficiency Furnaces

The greatest advantage of high-efficiency furnaces is that they can save you quite a lot on your energy bill. Heating and cooling typically account for more than half of the energy used in your home. A more efficient furnace can definitely make a difference. So, ultimately, a high-efficiency furnace is a long-term investment. Eventually, it may end up paying for itself, due to the savings. However, if you’re more concerned with the immediate costs than the long-term ones, this could be a disadvantage of high-efficiency furnaces. How much you save also depends on what the gas prices are in your area.

High-efficiency furnaces may also last longer than traditional gas furnaces. This means you won’t have to worry about replacing your furnace yet again in just a few years. This is another reason they are considered a smart investment. But it’s ultimately up to you whether it’s an investment you should make.

High-efficiency furnaces lead to cleaner air. This is better for the environment, your comfort, and your health.

You may even be able to get a tax credit for having a high-efficiency furnace, although that’s certainly not guaranteed.

How to Make Your Decision

In order to choose the best furnace for your home, you have to take your own needs, priorities, and circumstances into account. This can include the size of your home, the weather where you live, and what your budget is.

If you’ll need to rely on your furnace quite a lot throughout the year, then it might be in your best interest to go with a high-efficiency furnace. But if you don’t, efficiency may not be as important of a factor for you.

You may want to review your energy bills over the previous year to help figure this out. See if you can estimate how much you would save over 15 years, which is how long a furnace usually lasts. If it doesn’t make up for how much you would pay for the unit and installation initially, a high-efficiency furnace may not be worth it.

Overall, the major question to ask yourself is whether a high-efficiency furnace is worth accepting the disadvantage of its initial high price.

You can count on us at Entek to help you find the best furnace for you. Whether you choose a high-efficiency furnace or not, we’re the best option for your furnace maintenance going forward. Entek has been serving the Pacific Northwest for over 70 years, making us the longest-running Carrier dealer in the area. With all our decades of experience and our consistently top-rated service, you can trust that we’re the experts. You can find out more information about furnaces, our services, and more on our website.


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