Ron's Ramblings

Alarmist Furnace Article Begs a Response


Our local newspaper recently ran an article about high-efficiency furnaces that does a disservice to homeowners and HVAC contractors.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer recently ran an article about “new” high-efficiency furnaces. It contained some decent information, given that many — if not most — homeowners have only the vaguest idea about how their furnace works. But it also begged a response.

Here is the article:

And here is the letter I wrote to Mr. Neff:

Yes, here comes the big bad government with their damn standards that are going to COST YOU MONEY!

I work at Penton Media on a trade magazine called Contracting Business. Our readership is HVAC contractors nationwide. You got a couple of things right in your story, but why did you take the angle that you did? Is your advice to homeowners really to rush out and buy a lower efficiency furnace?

The chimney liner and the direct venting on high-efficiency furnaces cost a little more. A little more. And the installation is no big deal if you hire a qualified contractor — they do it all the time.

How about a mention of how much money homeowners would save on their heating bills with a high-efficiency furnace?  The payback between an 83% (that you're recommending people rush out to buy) and a 90+ is only a few months of heating bills. And people who have an old 60-70% efficient furnace and upgrade to a 90+ will see a HUGE decrease in their heating bills. The payback is usually only a couple of years.

Plus, no mention anywhere of comfort. Older low-efficiency furnaces suck their combustion air from anywhere they can get it: the rooms they're in, adjacent rooms, attics, doors, windows, etc. That means they create drafts while they're running. The sealed combustion system (horrors! two pieces of PVC piping!) on 90+ furnaces eliminates that problem. It's way better.

Your piece had some OK info, but I'm really puzzled why you took the angle you did. It does a disservice to homeowners and Contracting Business' readers.


Discuss this Blog Entry 1

Dave Highland (not verified)
on Jan 17, 2013

Great job Ron, I wish people that have little or limited knowledge of a subject could influence a great number of readers into not purchasing the most efficient appliance that should last 20 + years into their homes is certainly a dis- service to the community. I work and live here in Southern Calif. where we typically have a minimal heating season where our outside temps may drop to a low of 42 degrees! and I always recommend the condensing furnaces for a customer to save energy, money, improved comfort and lower noise. I teach HVAC classes for a union JATC as well as classes for several utilities, Edison, Socal gas, and San diego Gas & electric. Thanks for your piece.

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Contracting Business Senior Editor Ron Rajecki’s take on the issues facing HVAC contractors today.

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