Summer is the perfect time to replace an aging furnace. If your old furnace is costing you too much money or working inconsistently, then replacing it during the warmer months can save you money and frustration. Not only will most installers be less busy during this time of the year, but you may even score some deals for buying out-of-season.

Choosing a furnace is easier said than done, however. If you've never bought a new furnace, then the many specs and stats may seem bewildering at first glance. Fortunately, there are only a few essential pieces of information to keep in mind. This guide will provide you with three straightforward steps to selecting the perfect furnace for your home.

Step 1: Choose a Fuel Source

You will usually have a choice between three fuel sources: gas, electricity, or fuel oil. If you don't already have an oil-burning unit, then this likely is not a cost-effective option for you. Gas furnaces tend to be the most cost-effective option in the long run, but a new gas line install may be cost-prohibitive if your previous furnace was electric or oil burning.

Electric furnaces often have higher operating costs, but they do not require oil tanks or gas hookups. In general, many homeowners choose to stick with their existing fuel source when replacing their furnace. Still, it is worthwhile to consider both the upfront and long-term running costs of each option before you make a decision.

Step 2: Check the AFUE Rating

Every new furnace will include an AFUE rating. This acronym stands for "Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency," and it is a measure of how much of your furnace's fuel it can convert into useful heat. If your new furnace has an AFUE rating of 80%, then 20% of the fuel burned is lost as waste heat. For gas and oil units, this rating indicates how much heat flows out of your home in the exhaust stream.

Note that electric furnaces do not have an exhaust stream and so do not suffer from these efficiency losses. The tradeoff is that electricity is often drastically more expensive than natural gas or oil. When comparing AFUE ratings, consider the overall cost of the unit and the cost of fuel. High-efficiency units may be costly upfront, but cheaper over their lifetime.

Step 3: Plan Your Installation

Finally, consider where you will be installing your replacement. If your new furnace directly replaces your old one, then you can likely minimize your installation costs. Relocating ductwork or gas lines can add significantly to your installation costs if you are moving your unit, so always discuss this option with a qualified installer first.

Choosing a new furnace doesn't have to be difficult, and making this choice during the summer can give you time to consider your options new carefully. When you're ready to go, always choose an experienced and qualified technician to install your new furnace.

For more information and tips, reach out to a local furnace installation service.