Home heating is taken for granted much of the time. We turn up the thermostat and magically we get instant comfort. Of course there are many considerations to think about when we turn up the heat, not the least of which is the environment. This discussion often leads into a debate about the merits of changing out an older furnace in favour of a newer high efficient model. I often take a few minutes to ask a few questions of the home buyer who plans to change out a perfectly fine but less efficient furnace. I often discover that the buyer plans to move again in a few years. Changing out a furnace for this type of buyer is usually not a wise investment, here’s why.
Furnace manufacturers often date the life expectancy of their product to about twenty years. Many people will tell you that these furnaces often last as long as 40 years. The efficiency of these older non condensing furnaces was about 65%. Today’s furnaces are between 80 and 95% efficient with the average being about 85%. So this leads to the question, should you change out a 25 year old furnace to gain a 20% increase in efficiency. The answer is, it depends.
If the buyer plans to live in the home for several years it makes sense to upgrade to save money on fuel. If the buyer is young and restless and plans to move on in a few years it may cost more to change the furnace then what the savings will be. This process needs to be considered carefully before making this decision. If the furnace needs to be financed it will take longer to realize the return on investment. I often tell my customers that an older furnace should last several more years if it is serviced on a regular basis and given a safe bill of health by a certified technician.
Ask your inspectors opinion about alternative means of energy savings that will cost less and save more in the long run. Some examples might be windows, doors and attic insulation.