In the Know: A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding the Furnace

Furnaces are a key feature of cold weather survival, but few homeowners actually understand how they work. Furnaces may last for up to two decades, but consumers should be able to recognize the process in which a furnace heats air in order to maintain adequate heating and prevent breakdowns properly. If you are feeling overwhelmed as a furnace novice, keep reading to learn more.

Types of Furnaces: A Comparison

Sources such as electricity, fuel oil (typically propane), or natural gas provide power to most furnaces. All three models produce similar results of pushing warm air out through your vents to heat your home. However, they differ in energy sources used to create the heat. Electric furnaces utilize electricity as the sole source of energy to heat your home. Fuel oil furnaces require a fuel storage tank in close proximity and are the least popular source to heat homes. Natural gas furnaces require specific pipes and connections, which are not available in all geographic locations.

Heat Production: A Tutorial

Furnaces are most likely to be found in the basement of a home because hot air rises. Most homes utilize a “forced warm-air” distribution system from a central furnace. In natural gas models, a pilot light ignites several burners which heat blown air then push it throughout the ducts in your home. Electric furnaces work similarly, except the source of the heat comes from an electrical ignition. The ignition heats conductor coils to transfer heat to the air flowing into ducts throughout the home.

Pros and Cons of Various Furnace Models

If cost is an issue when choosing how to heat your home, electric furnaces are cheaper than natural gas or fuel oil. Electronic furnaces also provide a lower risk of toxicity or poisoning, whereas gas furnaces can emit carbon monoxide if not well monitored. Utility expenses can vary by climate and model as well. Natural gas furnaces are more expensive up front but have cheaper long-term costs because natural gas is cheaper than electricity. Gas furnaces also produce heat quicker than other models, so if you have a large home or are impatient, then a gas furnace may be a better choice.

Although furnaces can use different sources of energy to heat air, the overall process of warming a home is similar. If you have questions about how your furnace operates or if you need to replace your furnace, our trained professionals are happy to help. Call Great Dane Heating & Air today at (866) 488-3263.

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