Buying a New Furnace? 2 Great Features You Should Look For

The instant your furnace sputters to a halt, you might start searching for the cheapest heater on the market. However, while most furnaces might seem pretty similar, some manufacturers offer varieties that can help you to solve some age-old homeowner complaints. Here are two great features you should look for when you shop for a new furnace, and why you won't regret the extra investment:

1: Variable Speed Controls

During the winter, you already have to deal with shorter days and a frigid commute, so why make things worse by investing in another furnace that will interrupt your sleep? Traditional furnaces have two basic settings: on and off. Whenever your thermostat notices that your indoor temperature is dipping, your furnace will go from completely off to running full blast in an instant. Unfortunately, this process tends to make a lot of noise—which can interrupt your sleep or startle children and pets.

Fortunately, some newer furnaces are fitted with a motor that offers variable speed controls, which means that your furnace can run in increments instead of the standard full-blast-or-nothing operation. Your system will start slowly, gradually increasing the output until your desired temperature is reached. In addition to running quietly in the background, variable speed furnaces also offer these benefits:

  • A More Comfortable Environment: When traditional furnaces switch off, the air movement stops too. This means that your home can develop pockets of hot or cold air, depending on where windows, doors, drafts, and kitchen areas are around your place. However, since variable speed furnaces are designed to run at part capacity throughout the day, they constantly circulate air to keep your indoor temperature even and comfortable.
  • Save Money on Gas and Power: Although you might assume that a constantly running furnace would waste power, variable speed furnaces actually save money and energy because they are designed to efficiently control the temperature. Although your individual cost savings will depend on the power rate in your area, variable speed motors only use 75 watts of power an hour, as opposed to the 400 watts per hour traditional furnaces use.

To top it off, some variable speed furnaces are designed with special housings that limit noise transmission. These types of furnaces are especially helpful for people who have their furnaces in attics or basements that are close to bedrooms or main living areas.

2: Ultra Violet Light Sanitization Systems

Wouldn't it be nice if your furnace could zap away airborne pathogens before they were circulated throughout your home? Although it might seem like a technology reserved for state-of-the-art laboratories or government agencies, some furnaces are equipped with ultra violet lights that can destroy bacteria and mold spores by simply illuminating the inside of your air handler. These UV light systems are incredibly effective. In fact, one 2012 study conducted at the Duke University Medical Center found that these systems were capable of eliminating as much as 97% of drug-resistant bacteria from hospital rooms.

In addition to keeping your family safe by destroying germs on contact, furnaces fitted with UV sanitizing systems can also help you to control odors. Because mold and mildew emits volatile organic compounds that create odor, zapping these microscopic airborne organisms can make your home smell cleaner and fresher. This also means that you might not have to live with that yearly "furnace smell," or deal with odors from your teenager's room being circulated and distributed throughout your entire home. 

Believe it or not, UV light sanitization systems require very little maintenance. The bulbs that emit the light are typically rated for over 9,000 hours of use, which means that they will last a little more than a year. When these bulbs burn out, they can be replaced easily from the exterior of the system.

By investing in a furnace with cutting-edge features, you might be able to control your energy expenses and live a little better. Go to websites to talk with an HVAC contractor in your area if you are interested in finding the right system for your home.