When should you consider getting your heating system upgraded?  Truth is, if you’re paying so much on utility bills, it may be because of your furnace.  In Canadian homes, studies show that a whopping 80 percent of a home’s energy consumption comes from home and water heating.  Imagine that!  So if you have been wondering about what might be causing your high utility bills, you may want to take a closer look at your heating system and figure out if you need an upgrade.

Why an upgrade, you might ask.  If you have an old furnace that’s basically eating up your energy bills, upgrading to a newer and more efficient kind can cut down 35 percent off your total heating cost.  On top of that, companies who offer top-of-the-line and high-efficient furnaces normally offer rebates and even tax incentives for every purchase you make.  If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what is.

Proper Calculation

Upgrading your furnace to a more efficient model requires more than just purchasing a new unit.  To make the most out of the heating system you need or prefer, it is always important to consider some important factors that will determine the best heating system that your home requires.  These factors include energy cost, weather, home design, size, and a lot more.  These are taken into consideration when a heating loss or heating load calculation is done.  This is the proper calculation done by qualified contractors to assess the entirety of the home before a final decision is offered to consumers about the kind of heating system they need. 

Heating Systems

  • Gas and Oil Forced Air Furnaces. Most Canadian homes make use of forced air furnaces for their heating requirements.  This kind of system makes use of air to produce heat and relies on ductworks, vents, and plenums to distribute air to the designated spaces.  When looking for forced air furnaces, it is recommended to choose one that is Energy Star rated with a minimum 95 percent annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE).  AFUE is the measure of fuel that is turned into heat.  The higher the AFUE, the more efficient the unit is.  Canadian homes are required at minimum of 90 percent AFUE since 2010. 
  • Gas and Oil Boilers. Boilers make use of fuel to heat water and circulate it through baseboard heaters or radiators.  Space heating boilers also function as domestic water heating system for residences.  Just like forced air furnaces, energy efficiency in boilers is also measured by its AFUE.  Boilers that are fueled by gas, propane, and oil can qualify for Energy Star; however electric boilers cannot. 
  • Electric and Baseboard Systems. Electric furnaces or baseboard heaters generate heat by making use of electric resistance heating elements.  This choice of heating system requires homeowners to upgrade their electrical service as needed or mandated.  You may consult with a qualified technician to discuss any of the changes you need.
  • Integrated Mechanical Systems. These all-in-one units can heat your house, your water and at the same time provide ventilation.  If your heating system has finally kicked the bucket, this may be a good option for you.
  • Heat Pumps. As technology continues to advance, heat pumps are becoming more and more popular in Canadian homes.  Heat pumps work by transferring heat between the earth or the air (depending on the heat source) and your house.  The process this system uses is similar to the condensing gases as a refrigerator.  Heat pumps use electricity to make the compressor and fan function.

Professional Installation

Upgrading or getting a new heating system installed requires professional attention.  This is to make sure that all the proper calculations, ductwork installation, and the furnace are properly installed and are operating at maximum efficiency.  You can refer to the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada for help in getting a professional installer in your area. 

General Furnace Maintenance

Furnaces generally live 16 to 20 years.  To maximize your heating system’s lifespan, it is imperative that you schedule an annual checkup for your unit.  A professional maintenance prevents your heating system from prematurely breaking down.  Also, ensure that your filters are regularly changed for your unit’s protection.  Regular inspection of your unit will also allow you to enjoy your expensive purchase and make the most out of it.