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Innovations in Home Heating: How Furnaces Have Improved Over the Years

How Furnaces Have ImprovedHeating a home has changed more than you may have realized over the last 20 years. From using less energy, to taking up less space and giving the homeowner much more control over the temperature – the state of home heating has come a long way since the last time many of us bought a furnace. With so much innovation in home heating over the past 20 years, we’ll take you through what you can now get when you purchase a new HVAC system compared to older furnace models. This ain’t your grandma’s furnace!

The Safety

Today’s furnace models include powered venting and electronic monitoring of furnace temperatures and pressures that can create a “fail safe” if something were to go wrong. Older furnaces had some inefficiencies and safety issues by relying on a chimney draft for exhaustion, leaving the possibility of a bird, debris or even a frozen combustion air intake to create a blockage and potentially unsafe condition.

The Comfort

This is perhaps the area of greatest change and innovation in heating. ”There are now more comfort features than ever,” says Keith Hill, manager, part sales and technical support, with Minnesota Air. “With variable heating being top on the list.”

With two-stage, three-stage and modulating heat – the systems that provide more constant, steady heat versus the ‘on and off’ of a single-stage system – your home stays closer to the set temperature at all times. No more grabbing for the blanket between times that the furnace kicks on!

“Until you experience the difference, it’s hard to understand the benefit of variable heating,” says Hill. “On mild days the low fire heat provides a longer heat cycle instead of the ‘on and off’ that we’ve become accustomed to. Delivering a lower amount of warm air over a longer period of time is quieter and provides a much more even heat."

Furnaces with a modulating blower motor allow a quieter and more efficient system by gradually ramping up and ramping down. A microprocessor in the motor even senses the reduced airflow caused by a dirty air filter and increases the airflow to compensate, maintaining efficiency and comfort levels while using as much as 75 percent less power to operate, according to Hill.

The Size

Like many other technology-driven items, new furnaces have gotten smaller over the years. Electronic controls and computer-assisted design and manufacturing create shorter units that are easier to swap out. 

The Noise

Did you hear the heat kick on? Well, you won't hear it as much with the newer models. Now furnaces have enhancements like insulated panels, quieter motors and baffles to help decrease noise. Besides the comfort bonus of variable heating, the fact that you are getting even heat over a constant time leads to less on/off noise.

The Control

Having your home’s temperature set to your “sweet spot” is now easier then ever. With a digital thermostat, you are able to control how warm you want your home to be to a fraction of a degree. Newer digital thermostats have settings that let you heat up your home before you get back from work or step out of bed in the morning – a huge improvement in energy efficiency and comfort compared to older mechanical thermostats. 

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