Is a two-stage furnace a smart investment?
If your old furnace is on the way out and you want to find a new furnace with a solid balance of initial affordability and long-term efficiency, a two-stage furnace could be the solution you want.
A two-stage furnace outperforms a single-stage at every turn, and is only marginally less efficient than a modulating furnace (which costs significantly more for performance improvements many families find negligible).
You can make an informed decision by knowing the lingo and the technology.
What are furnace stages?
Many older are either on or off. They burn fuel to make the house warm or wait to burn fuel to make the house warm.
Two-stage furnaces operate at two levels, for example:
- 100% when the temperature outside drops below -35.
- 60% on most winter days when the temperature hovers around -15 or -20.
Your two-stage furnace may also start operating at 100%, but drop to 60% to maintain the temperature.
The lower setting reduces cold swings in your house and consumes less fuel. It’s the setting your furnace should run at most of the time.
The furnace doesn’t blast out a load of hot air, let the house cool, blast hot air, etc… It gets the house to the temperature you want and maintains that temperature through gentle, consistent heating.
How does the furnace know the right setting?
Your thermostat is smarter than it gets credit for. Unless it’s a SMART thermostat. Then it gets exactly the credit it deserves.
The computer your thermostat communicates the required setting to the furnace based on some nifty programming, and the furnace responds with the appropriate fuel burn.
Your thermostat accounts for the temperature outside, inside, and the current fuel consumption of the furnace.
How does it save money when the furnace runs more?
Think about it like your car.
If you want to go fast, like 100 km/h, you put your foot to the floor and burn through fuel like crazy. You go fast, but you have to stop for gas sooner than if you only went around 60km/h.
If your furnace burns fuel at a rate of 60% to maintain the temperature in your house, it doesn’t work as hard – and you save money. A single-stage furnace will burn much more fuel to achieve the same result.
And there’s another bonus!
A two-stage furnace filters your air better.
It runs more often, circulates air through the filter more often and removes more harmful air pollutants that build up inside through the winter.
Stagnant air collects and concentrates pollutants, while moving air has the opposite effect.
When you learn most indoor air is more dangerous to your family’s health than the air outside, you start to appreciate the value of good air movement and filtration from your furnace.
So is a two-stage furnace right for your family? It will:
- Save on your energy expenses.
- Heat your home more completely, eliminating cold spots and,
- Filter your air better.
It does all this for a lower price than a modulating furnace.
If price is a consideration, two-stage is a great balance between cost and function. Two-stage furnaces are quick to install and will last 15+ years with proper maintenance.