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Nazzaro & Sons Plumbing & Heating Blog

Modern Furnace Efficiency & Comfort Improvements

 Posted Tuesday, January 19, 2016.

As we covered recently, in a home that is at least modestly insulated, upgrading the home heating system may represent the largest energy bill savings a homeowner can find. The reason is simple: competition has bred improvements in modern systems, to the point that modern high-efficiency systems can be up to 47% more energy-efficient than their older counterparts. That’s nearly half the energy use!

Compared to older systems, modern furnaces use less energy when idle, distribute heat more effectively, and use fuel more intelligently. All of this adds up to lower energy usage and lower energy bills.

Pilots, Ignition!

Old systems used to use a manually-lit standing pilot. The pilot remained on constantly throughout the cold season. While small, the constant fuel burning adds up over time: 24 hours per day, for the entire cold season. Since heating systems work in cycles, switching on and off to achieve an average temperature, the constant light was unnecessary. Even moreso when warm spells occur during the cold season-- as this winter has demonstrated.

New systems use an intermittent electronic ignition, which lights the pilot on demand with a small electric spark. Once the proper temperature is reached, the burner and the pilot both turn off. Since the pilot is only lit when heat is needed, much less energy is used, saving money over the course of the season.

Useful Drafts and Fans

Natural draft systems were very popular for a time, but compared to today’s forced draft systems, are woefully inefficient. Natural draft systems relied on atmospheric pressure generated by the furnace to force out harmful byproduct gases and bring in clean combustible air for burning. While an ingenious application of gas science, simple fans have been added to modern systems that outperform natural draft furnaces.

Increased Comfort

In addition to energy efficiency, modern units leverage new technology to provide greater comfort to the people in the house. Multi-stage burners and variable speed fans provide more even heating, reducing the range between the temperature at which the furnace kicks on and switches off. So instead of, say, a 5-6 degree range, the temperature in the house is held within a 2-3 degree range. Without constantly swinging far extremes, the heat is more consistent, closer to the desired temperature, and so more comfortable.


Modern home heating furnaces are vastly improved over old-school furnaces. If you’re thinking about upgrading your old furnace, or need service on your home heater, call us today at 978-256-3586. We provide service, including emergency service, to Chelmsford, Bedford, Billerica, and anywhere else nearby!


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