Should I Add a Back-Up Furnace? As we transition from fall into winter, you may be wondering if your heat pump is enough or if you should add a back-up furnace.
Here are some reasons investing in a back-up furnace is a really good idea.
Newer furnaces are gaining efficiency
Furnaces have come a long way with energy efficiency, and this has the potential to save you money on your electric bill. In addition to reliability and quiet operation, a new energy efficient furnace can save as much as 45% on heating. It can heat quickly and disperse heat throughout your home, while also cleaning the air, reducing allergens. Most new systems are equipped with humidification, keeping the air moisture controlled for your comfort.
If your home is already equipped with a heat pump, this is a great asset for your home’s heat, however, heat pumps lose their efficiency when temperatures drop below freezing. Heat pumps work by extracting heat from the outside air and transferring it to the inside of the home. When outdoor temperatures are too cold, a heat pump shifts to emergency heat. This is much less efficient to run, ultimately making a heat pump with a back-up furnace preferred for homes in the Pacific Northwest.
Additionally, a risk of having a heat pump as your only source of heat is if it gets clogged with debris, while sitting outside. When this happens, the refrigerant freezes and stops circulating causing the heat pump evaporator coil to freeze and the unit to seize.
Weighing the Cost
The expense of adding a furnace is typically the biggest obstacle. To purchase a furnace with installation, it usually runs between $5,000 to $10,000, depending on the size and square footage of the home. However, factoring in the cost of repairing an old furnace, which can run between a couple hundred dollars up to a couple thousand, the cost of replacing a furnace looks a little more reasonable. Adding the fact that newer furnaces are likely to be considerably more energy-efficient, and some heating companies offer financing for their products, the decision may be easier to replace a furnace.
It is estimated that most homeowners are able to recover the cost of a new furnace and its installation within the first five years of owning it.
Energy Efficiency Rebates
Depending on the state in which you reside, there may be rebates and incentives for purchasing and installing an energy efficient furnace in your home. You can visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency website and manufacturer websites to see if you could qualify for a rebate. You can also call your energy provider to see if they offer rebates.
One of the commonly known rebate programs is Energy Star. The Energy Star Program is the government-backed system for energy efficiency, requiring clear labeling so consumers can make informed decisions about their purchases. The program requirements can be found at Energy Star
AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating
All new furnaces have an energy efficiency rating, called the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency Rating. This rating is equal to the amount of heat they produce for every dollar of energy they consume. The difference in an AFUE rating can add up to hundreds of dollars saved on annual energy consumption. Mid-efficiency furnaces typically offer an AFUE rating between 80-85%, while high-efficiency furnaces have an AFUE rating between 90-97%. You can find the furnace’s AFUE rating on its brightly colored Energy Guide label placed by its manufacturer.
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