Types of Furnaces
Not all furnaces are the same, as detailed by HVAC.com. They’re differentiated by the fuel they use to produce heat, and some are better suited for use in cold environments than others.
Furnaces that burn natural gas are the most common type today, and they heat a house well even in the harshest of winters. They are fast, efficient, and run on inexpensive fuel. Unfortunately, they also have a high environmental impact and require ductwork throughout the home.
Because of the high price of oil, these furnaces are becoming obsolete. However, they can still be found in some homes in the northeast US. Though they’re more environmentally friendly than natural gas furnaces, they still release carbon monoxide into the atmosphere.
Electric furnaces tend to be the least expensive to purchase and install, but they are the most costly to run. Additionally, while they’re easier to maintain, they take a long time to heat up a space. You’ll typically find these furnaces in warmer climates where heating needs aren’t so intense.
Furnaces that burn wood or coal aren’t common, particularly in cities and suburbs, but they can still be found in some rural areas. They’re expensive to install but cheap to run, and they can be used completely off the grid. However, they require a good deal of maintenance, including regular ash cleaning and boiler feeding.
Propane is the gaseous byproduct of oil production, and it can be used to power a furnace, particularly in places where other fuels are scarce or overly expensive. Propane furnaces can also be small in size, making them ideal for some compact, rural homes. Natural gas furnaces can be converted to run on propane with a low-cost conversion kit if necessary.
A mini-split combines heating and cooling in one appliance. They can be bolted directly to walls and don’t require ductwork, meaning they’re good for smaller homes and building additions. These units can range in price substantially based on size and power.
Geothermal and Solar Furnaces
Unfortunately, the greenest options remain the most expensive up front. Additionally, while they are inexpensive to run, you may not recoup your costs even over the life of the system. However, if your priority is making your home comfortable without harming the environment, renewable energy is your best bet.