“Should I Move My Furnace to the Attic?”

March 17, 2015

A common question we hear is, “Should I move my furnace to the attic?”

In short: No, we don’t think so. The disadvantages far outweigh the advantages.

Let’s start off with why most people want to move their furnace to the attic.

Pro of a furnace in the attic: saving space

Furnaces in basements and the main floor take up precious family recreation room. Installing the furnace in the attic gives you space to store more items or create a play area (who wouldn’t want a pool table in the basement?).

Unfortunately, saving space isn’t worth it compared to the disadvantages.

Con of installing furnace in the attic: losing money

If you like losing money, then install the furnace in the attic.

Moving the furnace to the attic will cause you to lose money in 3 ways:

1) Lowering furnace efficiency through heat loss

Because the furnace is installed in the attic, so are air ducts which deliver air to your rooms.

Heated air flowing through those ducts will lose heat when the unconditioned attic is cold, forcing the furnace to run longer.

According to the U.S Department of Energy, the furnace’s energy efficiency can drop by 35% when installed in an unconditioned space like the attic.

So let’s assume your furnace has an AFUE (energy efficiency rating) of 80%. Installing that furnace in the attic can turn it into a 45% AFUE furnace, meaning that for every dollar you spend to heat your home, you’re losing 65 cents.

That’s major money! Could you imagine paying for gas for your car, but only getting to use half of it?

If you install the furnace in the basement instead, the ducts are insulated by the insulation in the walls, reducing heat loss.

2) Losing air through leaky air ducts

According to ENERGY STAR, the typical house loses 20% to 30% of the air that moves through the duct system because of leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts.

Now, if the ducts are losing air in the attic, which is a space outside of your home’s conditioned envelope, that air is gone for good.

This forces the furnace to run longer to deliver enough heated air to your home, increasing energy bills as a result.

3) Damaging a high-efficiency furnace

We have always advised against putting a high-efficiency furnace (also called a condensing furnace) in an unconditioned space such as an attic or crawl space.  

Condensing furnaces produce water every time they operate, and it’s difficult to ensure that this water will not freeze during heating season.

Talk to a professional about where to install the furnace

Need a professional furnace installer in the Kansas City area? Contact Santa Fe for help.


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