The costly truth about your old furnace

With heating accounting for half the energy used in homes, and people expected to spend more time at home this winter due to the pandemic, it’s essential to pay attention to the cost associated with heating your home and staying comfortable.

Many homes in B.C. still have old, inefficient furnaces and a large portion of homeowners are unaware. FortisBC surveyed 6,000 residential customers in B.C. and found that more than 40 per cent of homes had a mid- or standard-efficiency furnace. A further 17 per cent of people didn’t know the efficiency of their home’s furnace.

Survey respondents from FortisBC’s 2017 Residential End-Use study show efficiency of natural gas furnaces in homes.Photograph By SUPPLIED

So what does that mean exactly?

Heating your home with an older furnace is costly, even if you’re using natural gas, which is the lowest-cost energy source for heating. Many homes built before 1990 have standard-efficiency furnaces that are as little as 60 per cent efficient. That means, even if it was installed correctly and well maintained, it will return only 60 units of heat for every unit of energy it uses, and 40 cents of every dollar is lost through the exhaust. 

It’s like buying a bag of ten apples and receiving only six.

Mid-efficiency furnaces, which were common between 1990 and 2010, are up to 82 per cent efficient, so it’s like paying for ten apples and getting eight. In contrast, high-efficiency furnaces are 95 to 98 per cent efficient, and of these, FortisBC only provides rebates for the most energy-efficient furnaces available.

Photograph By  SUPPLIED

Natural gas heating systems of the future show tremendous promise in being even more efficient. In fact, FortisBC is testing an innovative natural gas heat pump that is reported to offer efficiencies as high as 160 per cent.

Twice the rebate, twice the reason to upgrade your old furnace 

For now, the good news is that if you have older, inefficient furnaces now is a great time to put your renovation dollars towards a high-efficiency replacement. For a limited time, FortisBC is offering double rebates on qualified, high-efficiency natural gas furnaces, and you could qualify for as much as $2,000 back on select models. 

Now is also a good time to invest in upgrades that keep heat inside your home. For example, FortisBC rebates have increased from $100 to $200 for qualified windows and doors. 

These double rebates are only available for installations that occur between now and March 31, 2021, and you must register for a unique promo code before December 31, 2020, to qualify. 

Read Related Topics

© Copyright Times Colonist

Sign up for the Times Colonist newsletter
  • Now Hiring

    Post openings and apply for local opportunities!

Most Popular


    The Times Colonist is looking for newspaper carriers to work in the Reader Sales and Service Department.

Find out what's happening in your community.