If you're looking for a natural gas furnace that offers excellent energy efficiency without sacrificing heating performance, then a condensing furnace may be your best bet. The following explains what a condensing furnace is, how it works, and how it can benefit your home.

Two Heat Exchangers, No Waiting

To understand how a condensing furnace works, it's important to understand the function of the heat exchanger. This device is essentially a series of tubes that loop back and forth within the furnace. As combustion air generated by the burners travels through the tubes, the heat exchanger extracts the heat, allowing the air generated by the furnace blower to carry it away and into your indoor spaces.

A typical conventional furnace only uses a single heat exchanger, allowing some of the latent heat trapped within the combustion gases to escape. In contrast, a condensing furnace adds a second heat exchanger that recirculates the combustion air in order to extract additional heat.

Other Features

A secondary heat exchanger isn't the only ace up the condensing furnace's sleeve. To enhance fuel efficiency and provide maximum comfort, condensing furnaces also use modulating or variable-stage gas valves to control fuel flow and provide a greater degree of precise heating comfort. This allows your furnace to match its fuel usage precisely to your heating demands.

Condensing furnaces also rely on variable-speed blower fans to enhance its energy efficiency while maximizing home comfort. Just like a modulating gas valve, a variable-speed blower can automatically adjust its speed according to the furnace's heating demands. For instance, a variable speed blower can easily provide slower, smoother and quieter airflow for constant air circulation.

Benefits of a Condensing Furnace

As it turns out, there are plenty of benefits to upgrading to a condensing furnace:

  • Increased energy efficiency - A typical condensing furnace offers an AFUE rating of 95 percent or higher, making it one of the most energy efficient ways of heating your home.
  • Lower operating costs - Since condensing furnaces use less fuel, you'll be able to lower your annual heating costs throughout your unit's lifespan.
  • Reduced noise - Thanks to the variable speed blower, condensing furnaces are often quieter than their conventional counterparts.

Potential Downsides

The only real downside to a condensing furnace is its initial cost. In many cases, a condensing furnace can cost $1,000 more than its conventional counterpart. However, the initial sticker shock will eventually fade over time since the condensing furnace offers significant savings throughout its entire life.

It's up to you to decide whether a condensing furnace is the right fit for your home's heating needs. Talk to someone who specialized in heating system maintenance for more info on whether this is a good system for you.