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My House Has Ductwork – What Kind of Furnace Can I Use?

Many homes in North America rely on a central furnace as their main heating source. Though alternative sources of heat are available, what if your house already has ductwork? What kind of furnace will work with pre-existing house ductwork? When exploring your options, it’s helpful to know what kind of furnaces are available and which ones work best with your home’s pre-existing HVAC system.

How a Furnace Works

A furnace works to heat your home by blowing heated air through a system of ducts. It is then dispersed throughout the house through air registers. Typically, if your home has ductwork, then there are several different types of furnaces you can choose from. A furnace receives its power from three primary types of fuel: electricity, fuel oil, or natural gas.

Most modern furnaces have a forced-air distribution system that uses a fan to push the warm air through the system of ductwork. Though there are various systems using different sources of fuel, most furnaces today mix fuel with air. But which fuel source or type of system works best for your house ductwork? Below, we detail the available options as well as the advantages it may afford your home.

Different Fuel Sources

When you have existing house ductwork, the three most common fuel sources you can utilize are electric, oil, and gas.

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Electric Furnace

Electric furnaces heat air by moving the air over electric coils before distributing it through the ductwork to the rooms in your home. An electric furnace is often used when a house is located in an area without a natural gas line. Electric furnaces are effective in milder climates. An electric furnace will cost you less money up front, as they are usually easier to install and can last 10 years longer than a gas furnace. A household operating from solar energy may prefer using electricity for heating. However, without solar energy, electricity typically costs more than gas and may increase your monthly energy bill.

Oil Furnace

Older homes are often outfitted with oil furnaces. An oil furnace will cost less to install but is a less efficient fuel source than gas, using about 80 to 90 percent of the energy to heat your home while the rest escapes. Newer, more efficient gas furnaces are about 98 percent efficient. Oil, however, is a good option for those who do not have access to other fuel types and is more commonly found in the northeastern United States.

Gas Furnace

The most common fuel source is gas. Gas furnaces are typically more efficient and cost less in monthly energy bills. Natural gas furnaces have become popular in many households because they are considered by many to be the more economic choice. Though natural gas is more common, propane and LP can also be used if natural gas is not available.

Types of Gas Furnaces

If you are considering a gas furnace to use with your house ductwork, there are three types to choose from: single-stage furnaces, two-stage furnaces, or modulating furnaces.

  • Single-stage furnace: This option has one gas valve that opens or closes, turning the gas supply on or off. It only operates at one rate, which is high, making it noisier than other more efficient furnaces.
  • Two-stage furnace: This furnace uses a thermostat to regulate temperature, making it more efficient and quieter. The flow of gas can be adjusted to different speeds, ranging from low to high.
  • Modulating furnace: This is the most efficient choice, as it can regulate temperature and output more precisely. A modulating furnace adjusts the amount of gas burned so it only uses as much gas as needed to reach the temperature on the thermostat. These are also equipped with a variable-speed blower that monitors and adjusts the blower settings. Though a modulating furnace can cost more up front, it can ultimately save you money due to its higher efficiency.

Alternative Heating Systems

A heat pump is also a viable alternative to using a furnace to heat your home. Using a small amount of electricity, a heat pump extracts heat from the outside air and transfers it into your home. The biggest difference between a heat pump and a furnace is that it moves heat rather than generates it, making it more efficient. Heat pumps can typically be used with your home’s existing ductwork. Using existing house ductwork can even save money on heat pump installation.

Another option is installing a hybrid heating system, which uses a heat pump with your furnace. Heat pumps typically work best in milder climates. A hybrid heating system uses a furnace to supplement when temperatures drop too low. This system is a good option for colder climates.

Choosing What Is Best for You

When choosing a furnace, or considering alternative heating systems, there are several factors to consider. What fuel sources are available in your region? Is your climate mild or severe? What size works best for your home? Which furnace within your price range is most efficient?

Newer furnaces use less energy than older furnaces and can reduce energy costs. Not only can a new high-efficiency furnace save you money in energy costs, but it provides more even heating, creating optimal comfort. These furnaces also operate at quieter levels, so you can enjoy more comfortable temperatures with less noise. If you are worried about the cost of an upgrade, you may be able to take advantage of available tax credits or rebates. This will reduce the cost of installing a new furnace.

No matter your heating needs, Entek is committed to providing quality service to the Longview and Vancouver-Portland areas. We are the longest-serving Carrier provider in the Pacific Northwest for residential, commercial, and industrial services. We pride ourselves on promoting best practices as we design, install, and service climate-control systems. In addition to our services, we carry high-efficiency furnaces, heating pumps, thermostats, as well as cooling systems. Contact us today and we will work to provide you with the best energy solution for your home.


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