time of year, your home heating system may be going
through the occasional warm-up lap or it could be in
full-blown workout mode already.
your system is fit for winter duty. But if you have
doubts, hereís advice from top-rated HVAC pros:
assess your current system, ask your HVAC contractor to
provide a written efficiency analysis and summary of any
recommended repairs. Your contractor can do this during
an annual tune-up.
systems are not one size fits all. Be wary of a
contractor who offers a quote without examining your
home. Ideally, a technician should perform whatís
called a "Manual J calculation," which
includes square footage, window efficiency and other
factors to determine the right size heating system. An
incorrectly sized system will cost you money and
the most efficient furnace you can afford. Efficiency
ó a measure of how much energy put into the furnace is
converted into heating power ó is described in terms
of AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency). The
federal government requires that most types of furnaces
reach a minimum 80 percent AFUE, though some models can
achieve as much as 97 percent AFUE.
on where you live, you may have several fuel choices:
gas, considered the most economical way to heat a home
when temperatures are below freezing.
or propane, which can be a good option where gas lines
arenít available. However, oil or propane furnaces
require more storage room, run "dirtier" than
natural gas and can be more expensive to operate.
which can be an expensive way to fuel a furnace. Often,
a heat pump is a more economical option for an
heat pump, which transfers heat from one source ó the
air or ground ó to another, also acts as an air
conditioner in summer. One heat pump type, called
ductless mini-split, can be a good alternative for homes
currently heating with electric baseboards or wall
in mind, however, that on very cold days, a heat pump
may not perform as well as other systems. Thatís why
contractors typically suggest keeping your gas or oil
system as a backup.
you experience hot and cold spots in your home, or are
using too much energy to keep your home at a set
temperature, you may benefit from a zoned system. Zoning
divides a home into areas, each controlled by a separate
thermostat, and can help you save on utility bills,
reduce wear and tear on your system and increase indoor
cost of a new heating system can vary widely, depending
on equipment type, your homeís layout, desired
features, local labor costs and any necessary changes to
existing system components.
general price range would be $4,000 to $8,500 for a
heating and air conditioning system with basic
installation and features. Additional features will add
to the cost, and include air purifying systems, new
insulated ductwork, humidifiers, programmable
thermostats and more.
multiple bids from HVAC contractors who are
appropriately licensed, insured and bonded, and who have
positive consumer reviews on a trusted online site.
in mind that November through March is the busy season
for heating contractors. You might get a better deal if
you seek bids between April and October. Also, check
with your local utility or HVAC contractor to see if you
qualify for incentives or rebates.