A lot of people, when installing a new furnace or air conditioner, go by what we call “grandma’s pot mentality.” You’ve probably heard it–if you only buy one pot, buy the biggest one you’ll ever need. It’s a common sentiment, and while we’re not sure it’s always true for pots, it is true for lots of other things!
But that’s a problem when it comes to getting new HVAC equipment, because the “biggest pot” line of thought is dead wrong when it comes to heating and cooling your home. Bigger isn’t better in this case! Nor is smaller. In fact, we’re with Goldilocks on this one: the best system for your home is the one that’s just right.
So, What Size Furnace Do I Need for My House?
If you’re looking at a new furnace and working with a good HVAC company, you’ll likely have several options. Many clients push hard to get a bigger system–at a slightly bigger price, you get more power at your disposal. That seems like it would work better right?
Well, certainly there’s no point in going smaller than you need. A too-small system won’t cut the mustard at all, and you’ll want to ask your HVAC company a few questions to be sure you’re getting enough performance for your home. But that doesn’t mean go nuts–and we’ve noticed that lots of folks have the tendency to go for bigger systems than they need. Here’s why bigger isn’t better:
Initial Cost: There are a lot of costs to buying and installing a new furnace. Some of those costs go up as the furnace becomes more powerful, not to mention the furnace itself will be more expensive the bigger you go.
Utility Bill: A bigger furnace means a bigger utility bill. That’s especially true if the furnace is too big for your home or existing HVAC system–because less efficient systems cost more to run.1
Repairs: Not only can a furnace be noisy if it’s not sized right, it will also break down more frequently. You’ll be reaching for your wallet more than you would if you had a correctly sized furnace.
Efficiency: A furnace that’s too big for your home just won’t work as well as one that’s the right size. It’s like turning on the hose: after a point, it doesn’t matter how much you turn the handle, because the water can only move through the opening so fast. You’re spending more money to do it, though! And if that’s how your furnace is running, you can expect the air in your home to be less clean and more humid–all costs of having a badly-sized piece of equipment!2
Your Contractor and Your HVAC Plan
If you’re working with a good contractor, they’ll have an HVAC plan that’s custom designed for your home’s needs. Part of that plan with be properly-sized HVAC equipment. They’ll be able to factor in your needs as well as your current system, look at the layout and size of your home, and come up with a furnace that’s right for your space. No matter what size you end up with, make sure it’s the right size for your home, because a furnace that’s ‘just right’ has lots of great benefits, as we’ve seen.
Unfortunately, not everyone realizes this. Oversizing is still something we see a lot of, and the problems created are much harder to fix than to prevent–we can treat the symptoms, but if the problem is the furnace itself, there’s only so much we can do. That’s why it’s vital to find a great HVAC contractor who cares about you and your home. If you’re in the market for a new furnace–or any piece of HVAC equipment–do your research, find a contractor you trust, and get the right size system for your home.