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What Size Furnace Do I Need?

mother and daughter furnace

When the temperatures fall, you will need a furnace that meets all your heating needs. A furnace that’s too small may not keep you warm enough, and a pretty big one will only lead to overheating and fuel wastage. Getting the right size of a furnace will ensure that your home is comfortable during the cold season.

To correctly determine the right-sized furnace for your residence, you will need to have a Manual J Load Calculation report of your home’s heating needs. You will need an expert energy auditor to do the calculations and come up with the report. This report will help your contractor determine the right furnace for your home in British thermal units (BTUs).

The British thermal unit generally refers to the standard unit for heat measurements. One BTU is the total energy required to heat a pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. Most furnaces are rated depending on their BTUH (British thermal unit per hour) capacity. The higher the BTU rating, the more heat it will produce.

When coming up with the Manual J Load Calculation report, there are many factors that your contractor will have to consider in determining the right-sized furnace for your residence. Here are 10 things that they will take into consideration.

1. The Total Size of the Living Space

The first factor to consider when determining the right-sized furnace for your residence is the size of space you intend to heat. The bigger the size of the space, the bigger your furnace should be. Once you establish the square footage of the area that requires heating, it is essential to seek an HVAC expert’s advice on the furnace’s size that is right for your space. These professionals can also give you expert advice and recommendations on the brands that best suit your residential property.

To save on the cost of heating, you must include only the rooms in constant use while calculating the space’s square footage to be heated. You can omit some spaces like the basement and storage spaces in the house when calculating the total footage you intend to heat.

2. Total Air Volume to Be Heated

Like your home’s square footage, the total volume of the air heated is also essential in determining the right furnace for your home. The total air volume is determined by the total volume of the space to be heated. Different homes have different ceiling heights, which means that the volume of air is different. Homes with high ceilings will require higher BTUs to adequately heat per square foot than houses with lower ceilings.

3. Your Geographical Climate

When compiling the Manual J Load Calculation report, your energy auditor will consider your geographical climate. States like Alaska, Wyoming, and Montana experience very harsh winter months and may require larger furnaces for the same square footage than states that are relatively warm all the year-round. For example, a state like Montana has a BTU requirement of 50-60 BTUs per square foot compared to Florida, where the BTU requirement could be as low as 30-35 BTUs per square foot.

4. The Efficiency of Your Ductwork

One of the primary factors in gauging the efficiency of an HVAC system is its ductwork. Inefficient and poorly installed ductwork will lower the effectiveness of any heating system, and you may need a higher BTU output furnace to heat a smaller space.

Poor installation leads to inefficiency and an increased cost of heating. To avoid such inconveniences, ensure that you enlist the services of installation experts.

5. The Number of Windows in Your Home

Windows are one of the significant areas where heat escapes from home—the more the square footage of the windows, the greater the heat loss. The increased heat loss calls for more heat production to heat the home adequately. In turn, that affects the size of the furnace necessary to heat your home effectively. Your auditor can advise you on minimizing the heat loss through your windows during the cold seasons.

6. Age of the Home

Older homes will be less effective at heat conservation. Old homes are likely to have leaks around doors and windows, cracks, and low-quality or worn-out heating systems that may not be energy efficient. To compensate for these shortcomings, you may need to invest in a bigger furnace to meet your home’s heating needs. Minor renovations on the doors, windows, and all visible cracks as well as sealing up leaks can be a great idea in reducing heat loss, substantially lowering your BTU requirement.

7. The Energy Efficiency of Your Furnace

Today, most furnaces in the market have an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) of between 90% and 98%. A 90% AFUE rating means that 90% of the heat produced goes into actual heating while 10% is lost. To put it more clearly, a 50 BTU output furnace with an AFUE rating of 98% will be more effective in heating a space than a 50 BTU furnace with an AFUE rating of 90%. When determining the right-sized furnace for your residence, you must consider the energy efficiency of the furnace brand you want to install.

8. Insulation Level

An adequately insulated house will require a lesser BTU heating factor than a poorly insulated house. Before investing in a furnace, it is essential first to determine your home’s insulation level. Once you have determined the insulation level, it is possible to calculate the BTU output needed to heat your home while compensating for the heat lost effectively.

9. Temperature Preferences

Different individuals may have different preferences when it comes to comfortable temperatures. If you are comfortable with lower temperatures, you may consider a smaller furnace. On the other hand, if you are more comfortable with higher temperatures, you can opt for a higher BTU output furnace.

10. Occupants Living in the Residence

Bodies radiate heat into the atmosphere. More residents living in a room will produce more heat. As a result, crowded spaces may require fewer BTUs for heating than a space with fewer occupants.

Contact the Pros

Trying to figure out the right-sized furnace for your home can be overwhelming and intimidating. However, by determining your heating needs, you can make an informed decision, and you don’t have to struggle alone when determining your heating needs. If you live in the Norcross, GA, area and need help with heatings solutions for your home, we will be glad to give you customized expert advice tailor-made for your specific needs.

At Bardi Heating, Cooling and Plumbing, we will give you expert advice and services on all your heating, cooling, and HVAC systems. We also offer other specialized services, including replacements and maintenance of your HVAC systems, plumbing and water filtration, and attic insulation, among others. For a complete list of our services, products, and expert advice, please contact Bardi Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing today.

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