With winter just around the corner, many Chicago homeowners are looking at upgrading their heating systems. Today, there are more furnace options than ever before. One of the questions often asked is whether or not it’s really worthwhile to buy a variable speed furnace.
A variable speed furnace has a fan motor that operates at varying speeds which can be controlled by the user. This allows the user to control the flow of hot or cold air into the home. Though these furnaces are generally a little more expensive than 1 stage or regular 2 stage furnaces, they also bring with them several benefits:
- Create Your Own ‘Comfort Zone’: The ability to control the amount of air coming into the house and to different parts of the house insures maximum comfort for those living in the home. For example, if you have an elderly person living with you, they may prefer their room a little warmer, while others in the house like it cooler. A variable speed furnace allows everyone in the house to stay comfortable.
- Better Indoor Environment: Maintaining the proper level of humidity in your home is critical to insuring good air quality and preventing mold growth and other pollutants. With a variable speed furnace, you can add an optional humidistat to control the humidity level as well.
- Smoother, Quieter Operation: A variable speed furnace runs smoother and quieter than a typical furnace, because there are no sudden starts and stops. This keeps the noise level in your home lower.
- Highest Efficiency: When it comes to saving money on your energy costs, very few furnaces will do a better job of that than one with a variable speed. Not only does the furnace itself have up to a 95% fuel efficiency rating, but the homeowner will also save on electrical costs, because the varying speeds on the blower will not require as much electricity to run. This means that the actual AFUE could be as high as 98%!
So how much money does the average consumer save on energy costs with a variable speed furnace? That of course depends on how many kilowatts the furnace burns during the year. Many experts say that a typical homeowner will save about $250 a year on energy costs with a variable speed unit.
Incentives Make the Decision Easier
If increased comfort, better air quality, smoother operation, and saving $250 a year on your heating bill are not enough to make it worthwhile, perhaps the available incentives offered by the government, utility companies, and manufacturers will tip the scales. Depending on the unit you are considering, there are incentives available that could save you several hundred dollars on your purchase.
Many of the tax credits and rebates are only available through the end of 2011, so there is a limited window of opportunity to act.
Bottom line-for Chicago homeowners considering making the switch, it would be in their best interests to move quickly, because there is no guarantee that this level of savings on variable speed furnaces will be available next year.