Tips for finding good high-efficiency furnaces include deciding on the fuel type, reading the efficiency label and deciding the appropriate amount of efficiency for the home. Statistically, the leading brands require about the same number of repairs.
The best fuel for a furnace depends on several factors, often due to location. Natural gas is not available in all locations, and fuel oil is more common in some areas than others. In warm climates, where the heating season is short and there is a greater need for air conditioning than heating, a heat pump is a more economical choice. In cooler climates, air source heat pumps do not produce enough heat and must rely on backup resistance heating. While resistance heating is 100 percent efficient because it loses no heat up the flue, it is one of the most expensive fuels for heating.
In the United States, furnaces carry a yellow efficiency label. The label includes the annual fuel efficiency rating along with an annual estimate of the fuel cost to operate the system. While the fuel cost estimate often differs from actual operating conditions, it is useful in comparing models.
Furnaces with a high fuel efficiency rating are more expensive. In areas where the heating season is short and temperatures remain warm, the additional initial investment may be difficult to recover with the energy the unit saves.