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Why 2012 is the Time to Buy an 80% Furnace

 

With new legislation taking effect in 2013, homeowners facing the prospect of a new furnace will soon have fewer and costlier choices.  After May 1, 2013, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 will ban the installation of 80 percent AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) or below furnaces in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and other Northern States.  Owners of 80 percent AFUE furnaces can keep them for as long as they last, but once they need to be replaced, a furnace of at least 90 percent AFUE must be purchased, compared to the current 78 percent efficient criterion.

 

Why should you consider having your furnace replaced before the new law takes effect?

While 90 percent condensing furnaces are more energy efficient and will save you money over time, they require an increased initial cost of at least $1,000 more than an 80 percent furnace.  Currently the highest efficiency rating of residential gas furnaces is 95%.  Typically the additional 5% efficiency costs an additional several hundred dollars.

Furthermore, depending on where your HVAC is located inside of your home, installing a 90 percent condensing furnace could require you to alter your home due to:

  • Equipment space      constraints – Is there enough space to install a condensing      furnace?
  • Exhaust venting      requirements – Will a condensing furnace’s PVC pipe be able to      reach an outside wall?
  • Condensate disposal      – Will the water condensate product be able to be drained outside, without      freezing inside your home?

The high efficiency installation specifications may be even more cumbersome for owners of condominiums, and apartment buildings where chimneys are shared or drains are in unheated areas.

The average furnace, when installed properly and maintained annually, lasts between 15 and 25 years.  Homeowners with equipment in this age range, especially when they don’t already have a 90%+ furnace should consider how this mandate will effect their replacement furnace options, and may want to consider replacing their furnace before the mandate takes effect.  As an added incentive certain utility companies are offering cash rebates and discount programs to their customers who decide to spend the extra money on the 90%+ furnaces.

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