Do you have an old furnace that you need to have replaced or simply looking to save money on your energy bills? If you answered yes to either question, you should consider upgrading your home to a two-stage furnace. Two-stage furnaces are an ideal choice in Arizona where the winters are quite mild. We can help you understand why a two-stage furnace can be such a smart choice with our quick overview of how they work and their benefits.

Single-Stage vs. Two-Stage Furnaces

Standard furnaces are only single-stage, so they always run on full power. Two-stage furnaces have two settings and can run at full or medium power. On the lower setting, the furnace only operates around 60-65% of its total capacity. This is possible because two-stage furnaces have a three-way gas valve instead of the standard two-way valve used in single-stage units. A two-way gas valve is either fully closed or fully open while a three-way valve can open just partway.

Since a two-stage furnace only burns 60-65% of the gas it would normally use when running on full power, it will use 35-40% less energy. This is why two-stage furnaces can be such a great investment, as they will help to keep your heating costs much lower. Even in much colder climates, a two-stage furnace will usually run on the lower setting more than half the time. In places like Arizona where the winters aren’t nearly as cold, a two-stage furnace will usually run on the lower setting at least 80% of the time since you’ll only rarely ever need it to produce that much heat.

A two-stage furnace will always start on the lower setting. The only time it will ever switch to full power is if it comes on when your home is 3-5 degrees colder than the thermostat setting and the temperature doesn’t start to increase within 5-10 minutes. In this case, the thermostat will signal it to switch back to the lower setting as soon as it registers that your home is within a degree or two of the desired temperature.

Pros and Cons of Two-Stage Furnaces

There is only one real drawback to installing a two-stage furnace: It will usually cost you at least a few hundred dollars more than a comparable single-stage unit. However, the higher upfront cost for a two-stage furnace doesn’t tell the full story. A two-stage furnace will reduce your heating costs by 20-25% or more on average compared to heating your home with a single-stage furnace that has the same AFUE rating. This means that the amount you’ll save on your energy bills will almost always more than offset the increased initial cost in the long run.

Another thing to consider is that a two-stage furnace will usually have a longer lifespan and be less prone to needing expensive repairs or breaking down. The reason for this has to do with the fact that single-stage furnaces tend to cycle off and on quite frequently. This increases the wear and tear on the furnace since it is under much more strain and works harder when it starts compared to when it’s running.

Two-stage furnaces will usually run quite a bit longer than single-stage units, which prevents the temperature from fluctuating as much and reduces the number of heating cycles the furnace will perform each day. By running longer, a two-stage furnace will keep your home more consistently comfortable and help avoid issues with cold spots in some parts of your house. In Arizona, a single-stage furnace will typically only ever run for 10 to 15 minutes at the very most. If your home isn’t well insulated or has air leaks, a single-stage furnace may never run long enough to sufficiently heat every room and thus cause some areas to remain colder.

You can also opt for a variable-speed furnace that has a variety of settings and can operate as low as 25% of its total capacity. A variable-speed or modulating furnace is the best and really the only option if you have a zoned HVAC system. Otherwise, variable-speed furnaces typically aren’t worth it in warmer climates like Arizona since they are by far the most expensive option. A variable-speed furnace will save you lots more on your heating costs, but the energy savings may not counterbalance the higher cost since any type of furnace usually won’t need to run all that much.

With more than two decades of experience providing expert HVAC services, El Indio AC is the company to trust for all of your heating and air conditioning needs. We are a Carrier Authorized Dealer, and we carry an extensive selection of high-quality furnaces as well as air conditioners and heat pumps. Our technicians are also ready to help with your HVAC repair and maintenance needs so give us a call if you need any heating or cooling service in Tolleson or the Phoenix area.

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