Heating Things Up: An Introduction to Different Kinds of Furnaces

Residential heating comes in a multitude of forms and options. Most of them are furnaces of different types. Each one burns a different fuel or has a way of igniting something in some way to create hot air. The furnace then moves the hot air it creates upward and through your entire home via its forced air system and a powerful fan.

If you need furnace repairs or you just need a new furnace, you should become familiar with some of the various options that are listed below. 

Natural Gas Furnace

Natural gas furnaces, as the name suggests, burn natural gas. If you live within city limits, natural gas is a service delivered to you via city pipelines and meters and monitored and billed by gas and utility providers. This makes it particularly easy to swap out whatever furnace you have for a natural gas furnace. If you already have a natural gas furnace, trade it for a more efficient one that burns less gas but creates more heat. 

Propane Furnace

Propane is a "frozen liquid" gas. It requires a regular changing of the propane tanks outside your home or a refilling of a non-recyclable holding tank on your property. It is a good option if you live just outside city limits, or you live in a rural area where it would be impossible for a utility company to supply your home with natural gas. There are two more options that are particularly good for rural properties. 

Electric Furnace

If you get electricity as a utility from a local power company (as most people do), an electric furnace is another option. Electric furnaces do not burn anything in particular. They have an ignition switch that ignites and creates a small blaze within the furnace. Air sucked into the furnace and air returning from the cold air vents triggers the ignition and is heated by the short blaze. Then the air heated by this little fire is forced upward into your home.

If anything goes wrong on this furnace, it is usually something electrical, and often something to do with the ignition switch. Thankfully, these issues take a long time to develop, and a new electric furnace will not encounter this problem for years to come. If you enjoy a more rural lifestyle, consider either an oil furnace (which requires a delivery of heating oil every month or two) or a furnace that burns wood.