Posted: October 10, 2012

The day has come. We returned from work to a freezing house, which meant we needed to get the heat on for the first time this fall. After a long day dealing with changes in weather, it’s nice to feel consistency at home. When your furnace works correctly, you can relax in your favorite chair and not have to worry about tucking yourself into a blanket (unless you want to). If you find the warm air isn’t filling your rooms as quickly as it should – or not at all – it may be time to either look into repairs or a replacement. If you’ve had your heater for more years than you care to remember, the latter is likely.

Let’s say you’re in the market for a new furnace. How do you find the right one for your home? You may turn to a number of resources, like consumer watchdogs and recommendations from friends, for ideas. If you know a local HVAC contractor, you may ask for some expert advice. In all probability, HVAC mechanic you talk to will handle the installation of the device, so it’s good find a reputable company with concerns for your home’s heating.

If you haven’t contacted anybody yet for estimates, there are a few steps you can take to make sure you get the right model for your house. It’s important to know that not all heaters are built the same way. You will need to do a bit of homework.

Your first inclination may be to take a picture of your current furnace and simply shop for the same model. Sounds logical, but if you’ve had an old model sputtering in your basement for years, it’s possible what you have isn’t being manufactured anymore.

A good way to measure the right device is to check the current BTU, which tells you how much heat is produced. You may have a furnace measured at 800-1000 BTUs, it’s just a measure of calculating the right number. You can visit the website of Energy Star for a calculation tool that gets you the right information. When it comes to furnace size, it isn’t necessary the physical shape and width that matters – it’s how much heat is produced.

Once you have figured out the correct output, you can contact your HVAC company and consult with them over brands and models. Consumer Reports, for example, offers solid information on quality brands for the home, and your mechanic can confirm what will work for you.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Newport News HVAC services and Williamsburg HVAC services.