Introduction to Furnaces

Introduction to Furnaces

If you're only looking at the price tag, you might not be getting the best deal.

A space-heating system uses from 40% to 60% of your home's energy depending on the type of system, so making the right choice is important.

For most homeowners, the major factor in the home-heating decision is cost. When choosing a new heating system, it is important to buy a product that offers the best possible quality/price ratio within the limits of your budget. Take into account the overall cost of each system you are considering; this includes its purchase price, installation cost and operating costs. Often the optimal choice is the most efficient product. A higher initial purchase price is usually more than compensated by lower operating costs and, in some cases, a lower installation cost. The more efficient system saves you money every time you heat your home, and these savings increase as fuel prices increase over the life of the heating system. Other factors, such as maintenance costs, cleanliness and noise of operation, should also be considered.

Installation costs of different heating systems, depending on whether they are new or retrofitted, include such items as:

  • hookup to gas lines or electric power lines
  • cost of 200-amp service for electric heating
  • storage tanks for oil or propane
  • heating equipment (furnace, boiler, baseboard heaters, heat pump, etc.)
  • chimney or venting system (if required)
  • ducting system or pipes and radiators
  • thermostats and controls
  • labour for installing any of the above

The purchase price of a heating system can range from as low as $1000 for baseboard heating in a small house to as high as $12,000 or more for a ground-source heat pump (also known as an earth-energy system) for a larger home (capable of providing heating, air conditioning and hot water).

In the end, a homeowner thinking about a new heating system must balance the purchase price plus installation cost against the operating cost and make the best financial decision, taking into consideration how energy prices might change in the future. Since annual operating costs (and the differences in operating costs with different technologies) are significant compared to the purchase price, an investment in high-efficiency equipment is often the wise choice.

Find out how EnerGuide can help you compare the energy efficiency of furnaces.

Source: Natural Resouces Canada (NRCan) Office of Energy Efficiency