Action Guide

Upgrade Your Furnace

Difficulty: Difficulty: 5 Expense: Expense: 5 Savings: 2192 lbs CO2 / $204 Bookmark and Share

Replace your 20+ year old furnace with a shiny new efficient unit.

Why You Should Do It

Heating accounts for the vast majority of energy use of Minnesotan families – so making sure your heating system is up to snuff can mean hundreds of dollars in savings every year.  If your current furnace is old enough to vote, it’s time to upgrade to a 95% efficient or higher unit.

What It Costs

Expect to pay $3,000 and over for a high efficiency furnace.  However, with tax rebates, utility rebates and stimulus financing, you have a lot of resources to help make a high-efficiency furnace affordable.

How to Do It

  1. Select “Add to My Challenge” and pledge to replace your 20+ year old furnace with a fun new efficient unit.
  2. Determine the age and efficiency of your current furnace.
  3. Sizing is important!  Make sure you know the square footage of the parts of your house that you heat so you can get a properly sized furnace.
  4. Talk to friends and family about their heating contractors and look at ENERGY STAR’s guide to picking a heating contractor.
  5. Make sure to emphasize that you wish to have a high efficiency unit of AFUE 92 or higher!  If you want the tax credit, you’ll need AFUE 95 or higher.
  6. Remember to do regular maintenance!  Replacing your furnace filter regularly and getting an annual check-up will maintain the efficiency and life of your furnace.
  7. Congratulate yourself for saving energy and money and making a difference for Minnesota!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q.

    How do I know if I have a furnace or a boiler?

    If you have vents that blow hot air, you have a furnace.  If you have radiators, you have a boiler.

  • Q.

    Should I be looking for an open or sealed-combustion furnace?

    Open combustion furnaces use air from inside your home as part of the combustion process that provides heat.  This means that they use the buoyancy of combustion gases and the natural pressure in your home to draw in air and then vent the products of combustion (like carbon monoxide) up a chimney and our of your home.  However, if the pressure of your home changes (caused by wind or by running exhaust fans), this can cause backdrafting - where the hazardous products of combustion come into your home.  This is bad.

    The good news is that most high-efficiency furnaces are sealed-combustion, meaning that they use fans to draw in outside air for the combustion process and then vent the air back outside your home.  No muss, no fuss, no danger of backdrafting!    The amount of energy needed to run the fans is minimal and can be easily offset by simple conservation measures.


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