A furnace is the central heating system that keeps your home toasty warm during winter months. It can run on various fuel sources including natural gas, propane, oil, wood or coal. Modern furnaces use a combination of technologies to provide heat and air conditioning. The basic components of a furnace are the thermostat, gas valve, burners, and heat exchanger. In addition to these primary pieces of equipment, some furnaces include an electric blower and ductwork. A furnace can account for 50% of your energy bill, so having a well-tuned system will help you save money on heating costs.

The thermostat controls the operation of a furnace by sensing a drop in room temperature and sending a signal to the gas valve to open. Once the valve opens, it sends gas to the burners where it is burned. The heat exchanger creates the conditioned air that is delivered through the ductwork to the living spaces of your home.

Older systems used natural convection to distribute the These systems relied on the fact that cooler air has a lower density than warmer air. This caused colder air to sink and pass through the furnace area, while warmer air rose up through the air return registers in the floor and was drawn back into the furnace by a forced air system. Modern systems use an air handler to connect with the supply and return ducts. Air is drawn from the outside of your house through a vent pipe, then passes through a series of tubes that direct the hot air to and from the heat exchanger. The blower then forces the conditioned air into the supply and return ducts, and is usually controlled by a variable speed motor.

Modern furnaces typically require less maintenance than older systems. However, furnaces still need routine cleaning and inspection. Routine maintenance helps prevent a furnace from breaking down and resulting in costly repairs. It also minimizes carbon monoxide leaks that can be dangerous to your family’s health.

If your furnace is older and in need of repair or replacement, now is the time to start shopping for a new one. The best way to find a new furnace that meets your needs is to start with research to determine what type of furnace you would like and where you can get the best price.

You should also decide what type of fuel you would like your new furnace to use – natural gas, oil or electric. Gas powered furnaces are the most popular, as they offer cost effectiveness and convenience by being able to utilize the local gas line. An oil furnace requires a fuel tank and an oil pump. An electric furnace is more expensive but provides the flexibility to operate in areas where a natural gas system is not available.

Some people prefer a modulating furnace that can vary its air volume and velocity to match the demanded heat in the space. This type of furnace will operate at a reduced capacity most of the time, but can quickly ramp up to full power when needed.