Furnace Repair Lakeland: Forced-Air Furnace Fuel Options, Pros & Cons, and Troubleshooting
Florida residents, take note:
Whether you’ve got a forced-air system, an oil system, electric baseboard heating, a heat pump or something else, efficiency is the most important element for your comfort and for keeping your bills under control.
Forced-air heating is the most common kind of heating system found, especially in modern homes. However, that doesn’t stop many other heating solutions from popping up all over the Lone Star State. We’ve seen a little bit of everything, and so we can be know-it-alls.
But you get the benefit of that knowledge because we care about our neighbors.
If you have a home and want it heated, this article is for you.
If you’re considering a furnace repair or new installation, this article is for you.
It’s a good time to have the most efficient system possible. Incentives and rebates and other financial assistance are available to homeowners going greener. You could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Ask us about it today.
This article is going to talk you through a few of the different fuel sources available to the modern home, and what the pros and cons of those fuels are.
We’d like to help you minimize those.
This article will focus primarily on how forced-air furnaces work, what kinds of fuels are used, and a few simple things you should know if you own or may buy one. It is NOT a buying guide. We will post one of those in the very near future, though, so follow the Metro Energy Savers furnace repair Lakeland blog.
What kind of fuel do you want to use?
Depending on where you’re located, you’ll have different pros and cons related to fuel choices. The most common furnaces use natural gas, but not every home is hooked up to the gas company’s supply. For those of you who are a bit off the beaten path, you’ll be looking at propane, oil, electricity, or even wood. Each fuel source comes with different challenges.
Here’s the shorthand, but again, we’ll do a deep dive on this in a future installation article.
The Pros and Cons of Different Heating Fuels
Most Florida HVAC companies will have a strong opinion on different fuel types and their benefits and disadvantages. Here is our take on the subject:
- Pros: Natural gas is supplied to your home through pipes. You never have to manually stock up on fuel, arrange delivery of fuel, or worry about running out at a bad time. It’s usually cheaper than oil and electricity and comes with savings. Even bitter winters can be defeated by a good gas furnace. Of course, in Florida, that’s slightly less of a concern than in other states, but there’s something really nice about letting the municipality do all the hard work for you, right?
- Cons: Your home has to be hooked up to a municipal supply. You’re dealing with a utility company, and are subject to their pricing – and their mistakes, if they make any. Natural gas heaters are sometimes going to require more repairs than others. They’re also the heater that comes with a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning (a minuscule risk with modern safety measures, but a risk all the same). While the risk is extremely small, when problems do arise with natural gas, the fallout can be considerable.
- Pros: Oil is cheaper than electricity; though not as cheap as natural gas. It’s an off-the-grid option, making it great for rural homes and homes that don’t want to depend on outside sources. Fuel oil is not explosive, as it is quite viscous. Many HVAC technicians will tell you that oil heat can burn hotter than gas, as well, which does allow it to heat your home faster than other heating sources. After all, many famous places – West Point, Gettysburg, the Montauk Point Lighthouse, the Baseball Hall of Fame, and even the Statue of Liberty – still use oil heat. Oil furnaces can also be less expensive than comparable gas systems, especially if you don’t already have a municipal gas line running to your home.
- Cons: Oil doesn’t burn quite as well as gas. It’s less efficient and requires more cleaning to avoid soot buildup. It isn’t as environmentally friendly as gas heat, and you have to remember to schedule regular delivery or risk running out. Oil furnaces are bulkier and also require a fuel storage tank. Oil prices are far more volatile than natural gas prices and tend to be hard to predict because much of it is imported.
- Pros: Propane is cheaper than oil and electric, and on par with gas, depending on your area. It is among the more efficient fuel options and doesn’t produce significant CO2. Propane tanks can be buried and can have substantial capacities, making them more convenient to deliver than oil, and allowing buyers to stock up when prices are low. Propane furnaces are also very efficient, and often have flappers that close external vents when the ideal temperature is reached, which can reduce energy loss.
- Cons: Propane doesn’t produce as much heat like gas or oil, per gallon, and propane heaters can be more expensive. Propane is a highly combustible fuel, so precautions are required to operate it. Propane requires compatible pipes, which not every home has pre-installed. Older propane-equipped homes often have unsightly above-ground tanks which lower the home’s value.
- Pros: Wood or wood pellet forced-air furnaces can utilize the same ductwork as any central HVAC system (though they also require a chimney or smokestack). Outdoor wood furnaces even allow large and inconvenient wood to be used, or even unseasoned wood. Wood-furnaces often have very attractive “wood stoves” that may be desirable for indoor heating sources. Essentially, they replace a fireplace, allowing you to watch the wood burn and enjoy the view. Wood furnaces continue to work, even during power outages.
- Cons: Wood produces more air pollution than other fuels. They require the owner to regularly “feed” the firebox to keep the heat on, and they are a fire hazard. They are somewhat less efficient than other fuel sources. Wood furnaces produce considerable smoke, which can be a nuisance to neighbors, especially on windy days, and may necessitate building a much higher chimney. Storing wood requires significant effort, including the allotment of space, and the purchase, transport, stacking, storing, and sometimes even chopping of wood. An indoor wood furnace may require you to add radiators and piping throughout your home to carry the heat to other rooms.
- Pros: Any home can get electric heat. If you’ve got power, you can have an electric heater. They cost less upfront to install, they tend to have long lives, and they aren’t as large as their combustible-fuel counterparts. The reduced installation cost is very attractive, and many homeowners can DIY installation of some electric systems. There are no risks of carbon monoxide or carbon emissions, as the electric furnace does not burn fuel. From an energy-loss perspective, they are among the most efficient heaters on the market.
- Cons: Efficient does not always mean cheap, and electrical heating is always among the most expensive options for your home. It produces less BTUs of heat than comparable furnaces using different fuel sources. Electric heaters also cannot reach the same levels of heat, making them a poor choice for homes in cold-weather states. Electric furnaces are also quite different, which means that repair work can be more difficult or more expensive than gas, propane, oil, and wood furnaces. While they’re reasonable for Florida, the furnace repair Lakeland team would usually recommend seeking a different option.
Lakeland Furnace Repair: The Right Fuel is (Mostly) Up for Debate
Ask 10 Lakeland furnace repair technicians what fuel they recommend, and you’ll get 4-5 different answers. We’re willing to bet most of us would recommend natural gas first, though. Oil-to-gas conversions are becoming more and more common as homeowners leave behind their outdated heating technology and move into the modern age.
Adding a gas line to a home can be troublesome, but it also opens doors into better hot water heaters, kitchen appliances, and more.
Call Air Repair Lakeland today to ask us how our furnace repair technicians can help you make the most of your HVAC equipment. We have served Lakeland and the surrounding cities in Florida for many years.
Ask us about our risk-free guarantee, or our free consultations! Ask us how we can help make your home energy bills less expensive, or reduce the cost of a new furnace or AC installation with tax incentives and manufacturer rebates. Above all, let us help you!
Because (and this is true):
After all of our years of service, our award-winning technicians, our industry accolades, we have learned one thing.
The most important people in our lives are our customers. You are why we exist, and we take that responsibility very seriously.
Drop us a line today!