Most home owners come to a point in life when they have to make the decision between repairing or replacing the furnace. While this could be a major financial commitment either way you go, there are a few questions that you will have to ask yourself. Knowing the answers to these questions, and being able to calculate the time that it will take for your furnace to pay for itself, will help you to make the decision on which way to go.
What You Need To Know
There are several factors that you need to consider prior to making your decision.
1) You must consider the age of your furnace. If the furnace was in the house when you purchased it, you may try contacting the manufacturer with the furnace's part number. They should be able to tell you when that unit model was manufactured. If your furnace was registered so that it would have a complete warranty, they may even be able to tell you when your unit was installed. If not, you may just have to make an educated guess.
The average life span of most furnaces is between 20 to 30 years. Furnaces that were the correct size for your home, installed correctly, and maintained, will last longer than those that did not experience this type of care. Furnaces in areas that experience extreme weather conditions will also work harder and last a shorter period of time, than those that are in homes in areas with milder weather.
2) You must also consider how efficient your current unit is. As units age, they lose their efficiency. This means that they begin working harder to produce the same level of comfort. Unfortunately, working harder means costing you more in electricity, as well as fuel. Replacing your unit with one of the newer high efficiency units will automatically save you money, but will the saving be enough to sway you into replacing the unit.
Do the math. If you purchase a system that is 20 percent more efficient than the one that you already have installed, you will cut your heating costs by approximately 20 percent. Add up for bills for the last year, and multiply that total by .20. Divide that number by the cost of what installing a new system will cost you. Move your decimal two places to the left, and this is the number of years that it will take for your system to pay for itself. For example:
If your heating cost is approximately $200 per month.
Your yearly total will be 12 x $200 = $2400
$2400 x 20% = $480
$480/$3000 (or the approximate cost of your system) =.16
Move your decimal two places to the left and that will give you 16 years.
3) You also need to know your energy load and how much of this goes towards your heating and cooling costs. Your energy company will gladly come out and perform an energy audit. They will be able to point out places that you are losing energy, as well as make suggestions on ways that you can reduce your energy load and save money.
If you are planning to purchase a new unit, you will want to ensure that the contractor that you choose performs a heat loss calculation. This will help them to ensure that the unit that you select is the right size for your home. Units that are too small, or too large for the home that they heat are inefficient. This greatly shortens the life of the unit.
If you want to perform this calculation to look at the unit that is already installed, The Department of Energy offers some really cool calculators that will help you to calculate your heat loss, as well as your heat gain. If you scroll through their page, you will find many that are free. Navigate to this site to learn more about furnace repair and replacement.