Your furnace doesn't have to be breaking down constantly to necessitate a replacement. If the unit is no longer sufficiently energy-efficient, it may be time to replace it.
1. The Age of Your Heater
Age plays an important role in the efficiency of any furnace. Generally, the newer the furnace, the more likely it is to be an energy efficiency model. Furnaces manufactured in the last decade are likely to be relatively efficient. You can check the age of your furnace by finding the label on the side. This label should detail the manufacturing year as well as the installation year. If there is no label, then you may be able to roughly estimate the age by contacting the manufacturer with the model number of the unit. A furnace can last 15 to 20 years, so if your furnace is reaching the top end of this age, it can make sense to replace it with a more efficient model.
2. Energy Efficiency Rating
Energy efficiency is measured by the AFUE rating, which should also be listed on the label on the side of your furnace. If the label is missing, the manufacturer can provide the AFUE rating if you call them up with the model number. AFUE measures energy efficiency as a percentage, with higher percentages indicating a more efficient unit. The percentage indicates how much fuel is actually converted to heat. Generally, if the AFUE rating is below 80%, you can likely save a lot of money if you upgrade to a unit with a higher AFUE rating. You will recoup the cost of the investment in just a few years with the saved energy costs. Further, many utility companies provide billing rebates for upgrading to more efficient units.
3. Usage Checks
Ratings and ages are good guidelines, but they don't always reflect reality since maintenance history can also affect the efficiency of your heater. For this reason, your monthly bill can provide a more accurate view of current efficiency. If your bill is climbing upward but the energy rates aren't rising at the same pace, then your heater simply isn't as efficient as it used to be. You can check the historical energy use of your furnace on your bill. Most utility companies even provide access to past energy usage history so you can make a more thorough comparison.
If you aren't sure of your heater's efficiency or you are just simply ready to upgrade to a more efficient model, contact a heating contractor in your area.