Bask in warm, thrifty glow of gas furnace


January 08, 1994|By James Dulley | James Dulley,Contributing Writer

Q: I want to replace my old gas furnace with one that provides the most comfortable and even heat with the lowest utility bills. What is new for 1994 and how much will installing a new one save me?

A: The most efficient gas furnaces also provide the greatest comfort and quiet operation. Installing a super-efficient furnace can lower your heating costs by hundreds of dollars each year. It often makes economic sense to replace an older furnace even if it is still working properly.

For the 1994 heating season, there have been improvements in the electronic controls (for comfort and efficiency) of the most efficient furnace design -- a high/low two-stage burner model with variable blower speeds. These also use new motors which consume from 20 percent to 80 percent less electricity.

The gas burner runs in the most efficient low-output stage 90 percent of the time. In extremely cold weather, when the heating needs of your home are greatest, it automatically switches to the high-output stage.

At low stage, the furnace runs longer each on-off cycle. This maintains an even room temperature and eliminates the repeated shots of cool and hot air you get with most furnaces. This is also a plus if you have allergies, because the furnace air-cleaner is more effective.

There are temperature and flow sensors throughout the blower system. Each time your furnace comes on, a computer checks all the sensors. It then determines the most efficient blower speeds. If you have closed a register or blocked one with a carpet, it senses the change.

Other high-efficiency furnace models use a combination of single- or two-stage burners and single- or multi-speed blowers. These are less expensive and may be a good choice based on your budget and climate.

Some models have a sealed combustion chamber. This minimizes noise, drafts and the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning from back-drafting.

All of these furnace designs use an efficient condensing heat exchanger. The moisture in the flue gases is condensed inside the furnace. This squeezes out extra heat, normally lost up the flue.

The flue gases are so cool, since all the heat goes into your home,they are vented outdoors through a 2-inch-diameter plastic pipe. This makes switching from electric heat to gas easy, because you don't have to build a chimney.

Write for Utility Bills Update No. 813 showing a buyer's guide of 18 manufacturers of super-efficient gas-furnaces, listing model numbers, efficiencies, blower speeds, dimensions, burner types, and a chart of what you save if you install one. Please include $2.00, cash or check, and mail to: James Dulley, The Baltimore Sun, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45244

Q: I completed a new energy-efficient room addition to my home last year. This year, I noticed some small bumps on the drywall where I drove in the nails. How can I permanently repair them?

A: With energy-efficient construction, the moisture level indoors can vary. This causes expansion and contraction of the wall studs, particularly in new construction, and pushes out the nails.

Hammer each nail back into place and slightly below the wall surface. Hammer another nail in next to it so its head overlaps the original nail head and holds it in place. For even more security, use a drywall screw..

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