If it's time to replace your furnace, you're probably hoping to find one that's as efficient as possible. In addition to simply choosing a furnace with a high-efficiency rating (many of today's furnaces are up to 97 percent efficient), make sure you look for a heating system with the latest energy-saving technologies. These three technologies, in particular, make for a heating system that will keep your home warm without guzzling a lot of extra fuel.
Variable Speed Technology
Traditionally, furnaces were fitted with a blower device that pushed air through the home at one speed only. However, newer furnaces are being fitted with blowers that are capable of operating at varied speeds. What this means is that when you only need a little air circulated throughout the home, you can turn the blower on a low speed and satisfy that need without paying extra to operate it at a faster speed than you need.
Variable speed blower technologies also make it possible to leave the blower on a low level between heating cycles without resulting in a super-high energy bill. A little circulation of air between heating cycles can save you money in the long run, since it will keep the heat evenly distributed throughout your home and delay the need for the heater to kick on again.
The most energy-efficient furnaces also have burners that can be turned on high or low, depending on your needs. This way, when its 50 degrees or so outside and you only need a little heat, you can turn the burner on the lower setting and use less fuel. When it gets truly cold outside, you can use the higher burner setting, which uses more energy but is actually necessary to heat your home effectively in this scenario.
A two-stage furnace will also run more often than a one-stage one when temperatures are moderate outside. This is because it creates less heat at one time, so it will have to be "on" for longer to heat the home at the lower setting. A longer running time leads to fewer cold spots throughout the home, which may mean you're comfortable with your thermostat at a lower temperature.
Note that a two-stage burner is not necessarily ideal for every scenario. If you live in an area where temperatures are quite low all year long, then you probably won't get much use out of the "low" setting. Thus, you may be better off buying a less expensive one-stage furnace.
Supplemental Heat Pumps
A heat pump is not a feature of a furnace, but rather an additional apparatus that can be installed in order to take part of the burden off of your furnace and save energy as a result. Heat pumps work similarly to air conditioners. They gather heat from the outdoor air (even chilly air harbors some heat that can be captured) and transfer it to the inside. Because they don't burn fuel and only require electricity to cycle air, they are very energy efficient.
If you live in an area where the temperature is often below freezing, then a heat pump alone may not be able to keep up. However, adding one as a supplement to your traditional furnace is a very energy efficient choice. On those moderately cold days, you'll likely find that only the heat pump needs to operate -- saving your cash. Your furnace will only kick on when it's really needed.
To learn more about these and other efficiency technologies that will make it cheaper to run your heating system, speak with a furnace installation expert in your area or go to websites like http://www.homesmartcolorado.com/.