Making upgrades to your furnace can give you many of the efficiency and comfort upgrades of modern systems without requiring you to buy an entirely new furnace unit. Here's how you can make the most of your heating services.
Add a Zoning System
Zoning systems let you set different temperatures for different areas of your house. This usually works by having additional thermostats installed in different "zones," and then by having dampers installed in your ducts that control the flow of air to these zones depending on what the temperature is set to. For example, if one zone is set to be warmer than another, the dampers will shut off the flow of warm air to other zones while continuing to run for the other.
This is a good option to explore if you're already thinking about having your ducts inspected, and you can have your zoning system installed while your ducts are being repaired, sealed, and reinsulated.
Make Use of Smart Systems
Smart systems give you greater control over your furnace and how it works. Depending on what types of improvements you'd like, you can use smart systems to your advantage. For example, smart thermostats let you set all kinds of schedules to run your furnace automatically and can let you change its settings from your phone or even by voice. By using routines through tools like IFTTT, you can set your heater to turn on when you get home and your phone connects to your WiFi, or even combine it with other smart features so that your furnace will turn on at the same time as your home's lights.
Because these typically work with components like your thermostat and not your furnace unit itself, you can make use of many of these options without having to buy a whole new furnace. Along with your typical servicing, ask what kind of custom options you might benefit from. Some components your technician may already have in stock, so ask what they have to offer.
Replace Your Motor
Many older or basic furnaces will come with a single-speed motor where your only choices are on and off. This is pretty straightforward, but not always best for comfort or efficiency. For something that operates more smoothly, you can upgrade your furnace's motor to a variable-speed motor. These motors can operate at different speeds, which can let your furnace use less energy and make your home's temperature more consistent. For example, rather than waiting until it gets cold to turn on, the furnace can simply run at a lower speed while staying on, keeping your temperature consistent but not staying on at the highest speed.
While this is more of a pricey upgrade compared to simpler components, it's an option that can yield noticeable and positive results to your energy bill. Ask an HVAC technician if they can make this upgrade for you and what kind of motor they would recommend for your system.