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Furnace Rating Sources

Total of 18 Sources
1. EnergySavers.gov
Updated Oct. 5, 2010
Furnaces and Boilers
by Editors of EnergySavers.gov
Our AssessmentThis article from the U.S. Department of Energy explains how furnaces and boilers are rated for efficiency and discusses some characteristics of low-, mid- and high-efficiency heating systems. It also provides some advice on when to replace an old furnace or boiler and whether to choose a high-efficiency unit. A table shows the possible cost savings of replacing an older, inefficient furnace. The article discusses the possibility of retrofitting an existing furnace or boiler to make it more efficient, with the caveat that this is not likely to be cost-effective if the system will soon need to be replaced anyway. There is also a list of tips for maintaining your heating system at top efficiency. A link on the page helps you find rebates available in your state for buying high-efficiency furnaces and other appliances.
2. TheGreenGuide.com
March 2010
Furnace Buying Guide
by Tara Snyder
Our AssessmentThe GreenGuide.com from National Geographic publishes advice on living in an environmentally sustainable manner. This article touts the energy-saving benefits of high-efficiency furnaces. It compares types of heating systems, discusses sizing and offers guidelines on when to replace an old furnace. It also contains a list of tips for keeping your heating system at top efficiency.
3. ConsumerReports.org
Not Dated
Gas Furnace Buying Advice
by Editors of ConsumerReports.org
Our AssessmentThis buying guide from ConsumerReports.org offers general guidelines on how to choose a gas furnace (and find the right person to install it). The editors' suggestions: Make sure your furnace is properly sized for your house, choose a reputable contractor, ask about the estimated annual operating cost of each model you are considering and ask your contractor about the reliability of specific models. The article also compares gas furnaces with oil and electric heat and discusses specific features, such as variable-speed blowers and ignition systems. The article lists the major manufacturers of gas furnaces but makes no specific recommendations. According to the editors, "we found no statistically meaningful differences in percent of models ever repaired for the leading brands of furnaces."
by Editors of American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
Our AssessmentThe American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy is a nonprofit organization "dedicated to advancing energy efficiency as a means of promoting economic prosperity, energy security, and environmental protection." This site has lots of information relating to energy-efficient appliances and calculating your return on an investment. There's some good information on deciding when to replace a furnace, and editors offer a checklist of maintenance tips as well. ACEEE also provides advice for finding a good contractor and recommends efficiency levels for new equipment. Except for the intentional absence of brand recommendations, ACEEE is a comprehensive resource.
5. Seattle Times
Nov. 20, 2009
9 Things to Know Before Buying a Furnace
by Karen Youso
Our AssessmentReporter Karen Youso discusses factors to consider when buying a high-efficiency furnace. Like most sources, this article notes that proper installation is as important as the furnace model chosen -- although unlike some, it stresses that the model is important too, because "even the best installation won't make a furnace perform better than it can." Youso also offers tips for finding a skilled contractor.
Directory of Certified Product Performance
by Editors of Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute
Our AssessmentThe Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) is responsible for certifying the performance ratings of heating and cooling equipment. This site lists products that have earned the AHRI Certified mark, indicating that they have been independently tested to confirm the manufacturer's claims about their performance. You can use the AHRI's online directory to search for information about a specific model or to find all models that meet specific criteria.
7. FurnaceCompare.com
As of Feb. 2011
Search Air Conditioners, Boilers and Furnaces
by Editors of FurnaceCompare
Our AssessmentFurnaceCompare.com calls itself "the only comprehensive, unbiased source for air conditioner, boiler and furnace data on the web." The site provides some free content and some content that requires a subscription, which costs $25 for 30 days (or $9 if you only want access to a single report). The site has reports on thousands of furnaces and boilers, which provide such information as model number, efficiency and capacity. However, this same information should be available from manufacturers for no cost. The "Furnace Finder" tool, which is available only to subscribers, lets you search for specific models that meet your needs, based on fuel type, efficiency and size. A comprehensive directory of U.S. HVAC contractors (sorted by state, then city) is free, as is the "Find a Heating Contractor" feature, which provides quick estimates from three contractors in your area. There is also general advice on buying furnaces and other HVAC equipment, choosing a contractor and buying direct-to-consumer.
8. This Old House
Not Dated
Is It Time To Replace the Furnace?
by Richard Trethewey
Our AssessmentThe author, a plumbing and heating contractor, offers advice to a reader considering upgrading her 80 percent efficient furnace to a new high-efficiency furnace. Although the author says this move could cut winter heating bills by as much as 20 percent, he says this isn't enough to offset the costs of the new furnace--about $3,000, including installation. Instead, he recommends taking steps to "reduce the heating load" of the house by improving its energy efficiency. However, he does not offer more general guidelines for calculating the payback period of a new furnace.
9. DannyLipford.com
Not Dated
Tips for Dealing With HVAC Pros
by Editors of DannyLipford.com
Our AssessmentDanny Lipford is a remodeling contractor who hosts television and radio programs about home improvement. Half this article offers tips on maintaining HVAC equipment and dealing with the professionals who service it. The rest is about buying a new HVAC system. He offers tips on how to select a contractor, such as making sure that the business owner plays an active role in designing and installing your system. The advice is straightforward and less drenched in jargon than most guides. Lipford also explains some key HVAC terminology.
10. All Experts.com
As of Feb. 2011
Heating, Air Conditioning, Fridge, HVAC
by Editors of AllExperts.com
Our AssessmentAll Experts.com, an About.com affiliate, is an excellent place for consumers to seek answers. It is a free question and answer service. Volunteers are experts in specific relevant fields. Most existing questions are about problems, but some people ask for advice about quotes they've received, as well as what to buy. You can search existing questions and answers to see whether someone else has asked the same question you have in mind. If you want to pose a new question, we found that these experts need as much information as possible to give a useful answer. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
11. HVAC-Talk
As of Feb. 2011
Residential HVAC
by Contributors to HVAC-Talk.com
Our AssessmentThis forum is a bulletin board with a large user base of professional installers. It's a good resource for reading posts about repair problems for different brands. There's a lot of insider language because most posters appear to be in the HVAC business.
12. ConsumerReports.org
As of Feb. 2011
Central Air, Furnaces, Fireplaces…
by Contributors to ConsumerReports.org
Our AssessmentConsumerReports.org hosts a moderated forum that is free to the public. Many consumers inquire about the best and worst brands. Answers are anecdotal, but we found some very helpful posts by professional installers. An advanced search option is a major asset of this forum. You can, for example, search for all messages containing Trane and Rheem in the past year. Ultimately, the forum is a bit unsatisfying because so many of the posts are questions about what model to buy.
13. GardenWeb.com
As of Feb. 2011
Heating & Air Conditioning Forum
by Contributors to GardenWeb.com
Our AssessmentThis is a useful resource to obtain user opinions and experiences on a broad array of furnaces and air conditioning units. Many of the posts here focus on other aspects of heating and air conditioning, such as woodstoves and insulation, but there are plenty of questions about furnaces. The forum is searchable, so you can look for posts about specific brands and models.
Not Dated
Heat & Cool Efficiently
by Editors of EnergyStar.gov
Our AssessmentThis page has general information on maintaining heating and cooling systems. There are links to more detailed lists of information about when to replace your HVAC equipment and how to choose a contractor. The most useful piece of information here is a how-to guide in PDF format, which covers such information as HVAC maintenance, energy-savings strategies, choosing new equipment and working with a contractor. The information is consistent with other sources but somewhat lacking in detail. For example, the only advice regarding furnaces is to get one that meets Energy Star requirements.
15. HomeTips.com
Not Dated
High-Efficiency Furnaces: A Buying and Care Guide
by Editors of HomeTips.com
Our AssessmentDon Vandervort is a home-improvement expert and the author of more than 30 do-it-yourself guides. This page discusses the benefits of buying a high-efficiency furnace, including estimated cost information that is not available at other sites. However, because the article has no date, it is not clear whether this information is still accurate. The site does note that the Energy Guide stickers on furnaces and other appliances are "meant for comparison only" and that you should ask your contractor to calculate the actual yearly operating costs. Elsewhere on the site, you can find information on furnace size and energy-efficient features. The article "What Makes a Furnace Efficient?"refers to specific brands and models that include useful energy-saving features.
HVAC New Home Installation Tips
by Editors of North American Technician Excellence
Our AssessmentNorth American Technician Excellence (NATE) is an independent, third-party certification body for HVAC/R technicians. Most experts recommend seeking out a NATE-certified contractor for home furnace installation. This page provides advice on installing heating and air conditioning systems in a new home and evaluating the systems in an older home. A link on the page allows you to search for NATE-certified professionals in your area.
17. Professional Builder
Oct. 1, 2006
What Builders Used for Building Their Own
by Nick Bajzek
Our AssessmentThis trade journal article is primarily a chart devoted to the premise that "what builders used for their own homes is ultimately a testament to the many products available on the market today." The chart lists the brand of product used by five builders in every category of construction. In many cases, the builder did not report which brand he used. The premise has validity, but the information is skimpy. For example, Nick Bajzek doesn't let readers know when the houses were built. The three reporting builders used Lennox, Lochinvar and Carrier furnaces.
18. Warmair.com
Not Dated
Gas Furnace Ratings
by Editors of WarmAir.com
Our AssessmentThe title of this page is misleading because the site does not provide any ratings for different furnace brands or models. Instead, it points out the key difficulty in publishing such ratings: "Consumer guides cannot compare furnaces because each installation must also be compared, and this is impossible." The site's proprietors therefore dismiss the problem by saying that choosing a furnace is "the contractor's concern"; thus, as long as you choose a reliable contractor, you can rely on his or her experience to know "which furnaces to use and which ones to avoid." However, this site does have some useful tools, such as troubleshooting tips and energy conservation calculators.
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