H & S Heating and Air Conditioning

Non-Condensing vs. Condensing Furnaces – What’s Better?

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Which is the best for your home in Central Minnesota, the greater St. Cloud area?

By Emily Salzbrun, Co-Owner of H & S Heating and Air Conditioning

In colder climates like us that live in Central Minnesota, homeowners will use their furnace for several months of the year, we suggest a condensing (high efficiency) furnace. Why? Because of the high level of efficiency that condensing furnaces provide as they have the potential to save homeowners money on monthly utility costs.

However, condensing furnaces are more expensive to install than non-condensing furnaces, and even if you decide to purchase a high-efficiency furnace, there are a number of necessary factors you will need to recognize beyond the efficiency rating that can negatively affect the amount of savings you’ll benefit from with your family’s home.

Thus, for a heating expert there is only one way to accurately determine which furnace is best for you and that is to have a professional assess your home and heating requirements. An experienced tech can help determine which type of furnace is the right choice for your home and budget.

Below, we’ll discuss the differences between non-condensing and condensing furnaces, and the factors that can affect energy savings.

Differences between non-condensing and condensing furnaces

The 2 biggest differences between non-condensing and condensing furnaces are:

The number of heat exchangers they have

And their efficiency levels.

Let’s start with the number of heat exchangers.

So, traditional, non-condensing furnaces, have one primary heat exchanger.

The gas burners deliver heat into the primary heat exchanger and the combustion process leaves a byproduct of hot water vapor. That water vapor travels up the chimney and out the roof as lost heat.

Unlike non-condensing furnaces, condensing furnaces have a primary heat exchanger and a secondary heat exchanger.  That secondary heat exchanger turns the water vapor gas to a liquid adding 10% more heat into your house.

Condensing furnaces use the second heat exchanger to extract that extra heat that would have been lost in the non-condensing furnace. This is what makes condensing furnaces more energy efficient than non-condensing furnaces and can potentially reduce their operating costs.

Okay…so how much more efficient are condensing furnaces?

Non-condensing units have an efficiency (AFUE) rating between 80% and 89%.

Condensing units have an efficiency (AFUE) rating between 90% and 98.5%. 

While both are considered energy-efficient, furnaces with an AFUE at 90%+ are considered “high-efficiency” and will usually result in the most energy savings.

Factors may affect the cost savings that is achievable

As we mentioned above, regardless of whether you invest in a condensing or a non-condensing furnace, there are many factors that can and will impact the actual cost savings you’ll experience.

Some of these factors include:

            1. Duct work– Ducts can make a large impact on the cost of your monthly utility bills. If you have outdated or leaky duct work, you could be losing a large part of the heat your furnace is producing, spiking your monthly energy bills.

Our tipHire a qualified professional to seal and insulate your ducts. This will ensure your ducts are retaining as much heat as possible, maximizing your energy savings.

            1. Insulation– If your home has outdated or low-quality insulation, you’ll lose some of the heat your furnace is producing. This normally results in your furnace overcompensating to maintain your desired temperature, leading to an increased utility bill.

Our tipHave a technician assess your current insulation and potentially update it, so that your home isn’t losing heat due to poor insulation.

            1. Furnace technology- Furnaces that are equipped with more advanced technology will usually be more energy efficient, which can impact your overall savings. The two main pieces that will impact efficiency are the blower motor and burner.

Blower motor:

            1. Single speed – least expensive and least efficient
            2. Multi-speed – moderately expensive and moderately efficient
            3. Variable speed most expensive and most efficient


            1. Single stage – least expensive and least efficient
            2. Two-stage – moderately expensive and moderately efficient
            3. Modulating – most expensive and most efficient

Essentially, the more technology you invest in, the higher the potential savings you’ll see in the long run.

However, the extra cost of this advanced technology may or may not be worth it for your home and budget. You should check with a professional to help determine the best cost-savings option for you.

The solution: Consult a professional

We get it, we’ve said this repeatedly to prospective customers…but that’s because it’s that important. The best way for you to determine which furnace is best for your home in Central Minnesota, greater St. Cloud area is to enlist the help of a proven professional.

Whether you invest in a non-condensing or a condensing furnace, it’s a big investment, and you want to be sure that you can maximize your long-term savings with whichever option you choose.

Below are a few tips for finding a qualified contractor:

              1. Make sure they are licensed and insured– You can do this by searching for the company on the Better Business Bureau and seeing if they are accredited. To be accredited by the BBB, a company must be licensed and insured.
              2. Check to see if they have good reviews- You should check sites like:
                      1. Google
                      2. BBB 
                      3.  Yelp 
                      4. Facebook 

Ready for a new furnace?

Our team is here to help! We’re heating & air conditioning experts. Contact Happy & Satisfied (H & S) Heating and Air Conditioning for fast, focused and frugal treatment. We ensure you will get the most efficient Ruud systems available installed in your home with the best service and at a competitive price. Plus, we have available an 0% interest free loan for up to 3 years for approved customers. It’s a great deal and spreads out the purchase a new furnace that can save you money over the long haul.

We’re very proud of our efforts to take care of our customers and we strive to provide the very best, leading edge RUUD heating and air conditioning solutions to our clients. We would like to invite you to find out why we’re recognized in the top 15 Ruud dealers in United States, a Ruud Pro dealer and we’re St. Cloud Times #1 Heating and Air Conditioning provider for the past 5 years running.

Ruud is an All-American leader in heating, cooling, and water heating which our 2nd generation company has been teamed up with since the 1950’s. Ruud is known for “worry free” HVAC systems. We’re impressed with the quality of their equipment, which is why we’ve worked so hard to become a “Recognized, Local Ruud Pro dealer”

So, as we all know, heating a house efficiently is a challenge, especially in Minnesota where temperatures can dip deep well into negative territory. Winter temperatures are hard on people, so why not reward yourself with a high-efficiency, professionally installed heating system? H&S Heating and Air Conditioning is experienced at keeping customers happy and satisfied with our name brand products, professional heating installation, expert repair, and customized fabrication.

Enjoy watching snow fall outside your window while staying toasty warm in your home. Call H&S today at 320-654-1522 or visit them at their shop location, 3995 County Road 74, St. Cloud, MN 56301.

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