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A New System in 3 Steps

Step 1: DESIGN

Design is often the most critical and overlooked element of the planning process.

Here are a few ideas to think about:

  • Size matters - Your furnace or boiler must be sized to your home. If your heating appliance is too small, it won't meet your needs. Too big, and you'll be paying for more than you need and your installation costs will be higher. You'll also shortchange yourself in the long run. An oversized appliance uses more fuel and cycles on and off more frequently, causing temperature swings, reduced comfort, excessive noise and a shorter life for the appliance.
  • Look for high-efficiency - The higher the AFUE rating, the more efficient the appliance. A furnace with a 78 per cent AFUE rating converts 78 per cent of the fuel it uses into useful heat. Likewise, a 92 per cent AFUE boiler converts 92 per cent of the fuel it uses into useful heat.
  • Look into options and accessories - A wide range of options and accessories can add comfort and efficiency. Options include air filtration, humidifiers, air conditioning, zoned heating, programmable thermostats and ventilation systems.
  • Don't forget venting and ducting - High-efficiency condensing appliances require special venting to protect against corrosion. Ask your contractor to inspect your ducts and include any changes to venting and ducting in your quote. Your ducts should be properly sized to match your new appliance's heating capacity. Insulate ducts that pass through unheated spaces.
  • Consider your home renovation plans - If you'll be remodeling, consider how renovations could affect your choice of a new heating system. For example, if you upgrade your windows or insulation, you may be able to reduce the size of the appliance you need as these improvements make your home more airtight and reduce the amount of heat lost from your home. Plan for natural gas pre-piping when you're in the planning stages of your renovation.
  • Consider true costs - The true cost of a new heating system usually involves more than the appliance itself. The benefits though, can outweigh the costs of upgrading. Consider the following:
    • Appliance cost - the purchase price of a high-efficiency condensing model can be higher than a non-condensing model.
    • Installation cost - depending on the system, upgrades may include changes to the venting, ducting systems, or drainage.
    • Energy costs - over time, you'll save money by saving energy with a high-efficiency model.
    • Maintenance costs - be sure that your layout allows adequate space and access for servicing. You'll pay less for labor if a technician can easily access your system.


Even a top-of-the-line system won't perform to its potential if it is not installed correctly. Heating contractors are not necessarily designers and vice-versa. Ask your contractor to confirm which association's guidelines have been used to design your system. A good contractor will take the time to explain how your system operates and how to keep it functioning as designed.

When choosing a contractor, remember: least expensive isn't always best - take the time to check references.


Maintenance is a little thing that can make a big difference. If you take care of your heating system, it will take care of you for a very long time.

  • When your system is installed, ask your contractor or builder to explain the system's operation as well as the manufacturer's suggested maintenance schedule. Your contractor should also supply operating and maintenance instructions for any accessories that were added to the system.
  • Keep all warranties and maintenance instructions near your furnace or boiler for easy reference.
  • Many manufacturers will have a condensed maintenance sheet for you to follow. If you aren't comfortable doing some maintenance on your own, ask your heating contractor for a service contract. You'll feel better knowing your system will get regular attention and maintenance to keep it operating at its best.