What Are The Different Types of Furnaces?

Furnaces remain the most popular choice for home heating due to their high efficiency, low operating noise, long lifespans, compatibility, and more. There is a furnace to fit almost any home.

Furnaces can use natural gas, heating oil, electricity or propane to heat your home. After the air is heated, it enters your living spaces through the maze of ductwork. You will usually find the furnace in basements, attics, closets or crawlspaces.

Before you choose a new furnace for your home, make sure you understand the types of furnaces are available to you.


What Is a Furnace?

A furnace is one of the main components of your HVAC system. Sometimes referred to as forced air systems, these heating systems burn natural gas, oil, electricity or propane to heat your home, and are the most commonly used heating systems. Air is heated in the furnace and then distributed throughout your house via ductwork. Furnaces are typically found in closets, basements, crawlspaces, and attics. There are many concerns when deciding whether to choose a gas, oil, or electric furnace. Our technicians can help you make this difficult decision.

Most North American homes are kept warm with furnaces, of which there are three main types: natural gas, oil and electric. There are also non-furnace home heating solutions, such as heat pumps and steam heat boilers, which interact with HVAC systems in ways similar to furnaces. Some homes may also have zone heating systems like baseboard heaters, radiant floor heating or wood burning stoves.


Types of Furnaces

There are four main types of furnaces: natural gas, oil, electric, and propane. Electric furnaces can heat the air by exposing heated elements, while other types of furnaces typically require a heat exchanger or chamber that warms the surrounding air.

Natural Gas Furnace

The most common type of furnace in homes today is the natural gas furnace, which requires a connection to a municipal gas line and operates through central air ducts. Gas jets along a burner ignite to create the hot combustion gas that raises the temperature of air, which fans then circulate through the ducts. When compared to other types of furnaces, gas heating tends to be the most affordable, because natural gas is generally cheaper than oil and electricity.

Oil Furnace

If you do not have access to natural gas, you may need to fuel your furnace with oil. Most commonly used in cold environments mainly in the northeastern United States, oil furnaces convert oil to heat. While oil furnaces are not as energy-efficient as their gas-powered counterparts, they are still an effective way of heating your home.

 Electric Furnace

If you do not have a natural gas line coming into your house, an electric-powered furnace can be an excellent option. These systems use electric heating elements that warm the air and distribute it through the home’s ductwork. Electric furnaces are usually inexpensive to purchase up front and are smaller than other furnaces, making them easy to fit into most spaces. Like oil furnaces, electric furnaces tend to be a lot less efficient, but they can be the right choice if your options are limited.



Things to Consider When Choosing a Furnace

Choose the Right Size

Buying the right size furnace for your home will ensure you’re comfortable and don’t spend more on heating than you need to. If you are building a house, you may be wondering how many BTUs you will need to heat it. The first factor you should consider is your home’s square footage. Bigger homes, generally speaking, require more BTUs to heat. Keep in mind, however, that this is just a starting point. Below are the BTUs required for homes of certain sizes.

  • 1,200-square-foot house: 36,000 to 72,000 BTUs
  • 1,500-square-foot house: 45,000 to 90,000 BTUs
  • 1,800-square-foot house: 54,000 to 108,000 BTUs
  • 2,100-square-foot house: 63,000 to 126,000 BTUs
  • 2,400-square-foot house: 72,000 to 144,000 BTUs


Look at the AFUE Rating

When shopping around, one of the most important metrics to look at is the furnace’s AFUE or annual fuel utilization efficiency. A high AFUE number indicates high energy efficiency. This means that you will be able to lower your monthly heating bills. The only caveat is that you need to make sure that your air duct system is intact and your house is well insulated. Otherwise, you will be wasting heat and spending a lot of money. Without proper insulation in your walls, windows and doors, even the most energy efficient furnace will not save you much money.

 Compare Furnace Reviews

When deciding where to buy a furnace, check reviews through Consumer Reports and the Better Business Bureau to see how customers respond to problems and complaints. If you are having the furnace professionally installed, check reviews for the HVAC contractor as well.



Give Us a Call

Keeping your Southern California home warm this winter just got easier, with help from Aire-Tech! We give you countless resources to help you explore and learn about HVAC and energy efficient options for your home.

If your system needs repair or inspection, call Aire-Tech on 951-926-1002. You can also visit our Contact page and complete the contact form.