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When Choosing a New Furnace or Air Conditioner, Bigger Isn't Always Better

When Choosing a New Furnace or Air Conditioner, Bigger Isn't Always Better

April 15th, 2018

When it comes to furnaces and air conditioners, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. There are many different sizes of furnaces and air conditioners that are designed to meet specific heating and cooling needs, so choosing the right one for your home helps ensure that you end up with the most comfortable and economical solution.

This can be tricky to figure out sometimes, and there is a lot of misinformation out there that makes it easy to end up with the wrong furnace or air conditioner for your home. It’s not unusual for general ‘rules of thumb’ to be outdated or relying on incorrect calculations, and the resulting recommendations may indicate a much larger unit than is really necessary for your needs. In this article, we’re going to explain why bigger isn’t always better when it comes to furnaces and air conditioners.

There are actually several different factors that cause larger furnaces and air conditioner units to cost more to operate and produce a less comfortable environment than a unit that is correctly sized for your home. Let’s get started by examining these factors and explaining why they are important.

Heating and Cooling Capacity

The heating power of a furnace is measured in units called ‘BTUs’. Essentially, the higher the BTU rating, the more powerful the furnace will be. This fact makes it common for people to mistakenly believe that a furnace with a bigger BTU rating will do a better job of heating their home. The same thoughts often occur for air conditioners, which are also measured in BTUs. After all, if a bigger air conditioner can pump out more cooling power faster than a smaller one, then that’s what you want on those hot and humid summer days, right? Wrong.

The ideal BTU capacity for a furnace or air conditioner for your home will be based on a few different factors, but mostly the size and square footage of your house. By choosing a furnace or air conditioner that is bigger than needed for your home, it will result in inconsistent temperatures in the different areas of your home. For example, with an oversized furnace, there will be some rooms that heat up very quickly due to the large amount of heat generated, and if the thermostat happens to be in one of these rooms, then the furnace will shut off before it has a chance to warm up the rooms that are further away. In addition, some rooms will be subjected to so much heat that they become hot and uncomfortable very quickly. A furnace that is correctly sized for your home will be able to provide a much more consistent and reliable level of comfort in all of the rooms of your house.

Regarding air conditioners, there is another function that they provide aside from simple cooling of the air. They also help to control your home comfort by removing excess humidity from the air. This occurs when the warm humid air passes over the condenser and the air is cooled off, causing the humidity to condense in to water droplets and be removed before the air returns back in to your living spaces. In order to achieve your desired level of comfort, the air conditioner must be running long enough to remove the necessary amount of humidity from the air. If the air conditioner shuts off too early from generating far more cooling than is needed for the space, then the humidity control also shuts off. As you can see, having a furnace or air conditioner that is way more powerful than needed is not a good thing.

Operating Time

In addition to the inconsistency in temperature and comfort in the rooms of your house, having a furnace or air conditioner that is too powerful will also cost more in operating expenses in the long run. It may seem strange to say, but a smaller, but correctly sized unit, that runs for longer periods of time will use less energy to heat and cool your home than a larger unit that pumps out a lot of heat or cooling very quickly. This is because it takes far less energy to maintain a temperature than it does to heat up and cool down over and over again. Every time your furnace or air conditioner starts up, it uses a portion of electricity and fuel to simply get up to the necessary operating conditions. In the case of oversized furnaces and air conditioners, this extra energy really adds up, especially if the units shut off and turn back on much more frequently than smaller units that would be running for longer periods of time.


Another thing to consider about larger furnaces or air conditioners is the cost of maintenance over the life of the unit. Bigger furnaces often use bigger or more expensive air filters. Fans, motors, condensers, heat exchangers, and most other parts and components are all more expensive in bigger, higher-capacity furnaces and air conditioners. This means that anything you ever need to replace costs more than it really needs to. With an oversized unit, the frequent starting and stopping adds a lot of wear and tear to the moving parts and other components, meaning that service calls are probably going to be more frequent than if the unit was sized correctly for the home. Having a furnace and air conditioner that is correctly sized to the size of your home is essential to keeping your maintenance costs as low as possible.

As you can see, there are many reasons why it’s very important to make sure that you choose wisely when selecting a new furnace or air conditioner for your home. You don’t want to go too small, that’s for sure, but we hope you’ll recognize that going too big is definitely not a good idea either. You want to make sure you get the correct size for your house, and to find that out you’ll want to speak with a knowledgeable heating and cooling expert that you trust.

If you have any concerns about choosing a new furnace or air conditioner, the team here at Gaslink would like to help. Our professionals will work with you to make sure that the equipment that goes in to your home is the right size for maximum comfort and efficiency, as well as of the best quality. Contact us today and we’ll be happy to arrange a consultation for you with one of our heating and cooling experts to walk you through the process and answer all of your questions.

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George on August 18, 2022 @ 7:36 am said:
"This occurs when the warm humid air passes over the condenser and the air is cooled off,"

George on August 18, 2022 @ 7:36 am said:
"This occurs when the warm humid air passes over the condenser and the air is cooled off,"

George on August 18, 2022 @ 7:40 am said:
I think you meant to say "evaporator" instead of "condenser".

Michael Bates on February 21, 2023 @ 4:34 pm said:
Trying to see if I can get help I can't afford to get my heater fixed the board is bad on it and it's very expensive if you could help me please




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