Furnace change could fire up costs

New federal regulations for furnaces go into effect in May; furnaces must be more fuel-efficient

DETROIT - For the most part, the furnace is one of the most reliable things inside your home. It's generally good for about 20 years.

"Most people forget that they have a box in the basement that heats their house, until there's a problem and then it's a big issue," said HVAC technician Jarrod Beach.

However, this year, you may need to think about your furnace, ready or not! New federal regulations will go into effect in May. They require any furnaces installed in the northern United States to be 90 percent fuel efficient instead of 80 percent, which is the current standard.

For consumers, the more fuel efficient furnace will cost at minimum a few hundred dollars more. Even worse, installation can be trickier.

"The new 90 percent furnaces cannot vent into an existing b-vent flu or a chimney line or standard flu." said HVAC expert Don O'Brien.

Interior condo units and some apartments could be even more of a challenge.

"By the time you figure out all the dry wall repair, the carpentry, the soffiting, the painting and finishing, and stuff like that," said HVAC technician Jarrod Beach.

It could turn a three thousand dollar project into six thousand, but if you purchase before May, those extra costs can be avoided for now.

"Anybody who's got a furnace that's twelve, 13, 14 years old might want to think, might want to start thinking about this… it could save them a lot of money in the long run," said HVAC technician Jarrod Beach.

It will save you money because homeowners who install the current models will not be required to upgrade to 90 percent efficiency. So, if you buy a new furnace before May you could avoid those additional costs for another 20 years! But, you might not want to wait too long, or there could be a huge run for new furnaces in a few months.

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