How to Choose a Heating System for your House

I overheard a customer once asking Rob, owner of R&B, this exact question.

What is the best brand and what model should I choose?

I opened my ears to listen curiously since his house was in Eastern Canada and we are here in the West, so Rob had absolutely no partiality to any particular brand in Eastern Canada.  His answer surprised me.

“You shouldn’t start with the product or even the price.  It’s more important to find a great heating company.”

Rob advised him to get a referral for a company that was local to his neighbourhood.  That way you don’t end up with what’s commonly referred to as ‘The Taillight Warranty’.  It’s good as long as you can see the taillights of the service vehicle leaving.  After that it’s impossible to get them back because of the travel time and distance– a detriment to prompt service.

Having a company like R&B, who will stand behind their work, is local and willing to service the products they sell is absolutely the most important thing to look for.  The question should really be, how to choose a great company, but that’s another blog, and you’re already here 🙂

What will your great plumbing and heating company tell you about how to choose a heating system for your house? It boils down to these 6 areas:


1. Consider Brand

Choose one that’s been proven to last and has an excellent warranty.  A talk with an installer with any kind of longevity – one who’s been installing the same brand for many years, should be able to tell you about weaknesses in prior designs and what the company did about it.

For example, one of the brands we installed regularly had an issue with a heat exchanger to the extent that there was a special warranty offered for certain year ranges.  They also redesigned the product to stop using that type of material and later models are much more reliable.  This kind of information may help you with your brand decision but it will also give you an idea of the breadth of knowledge of the installing company.

A quality installer will service everything they sell so they will already be choosing products that have been proven in their experience to provide the best customer experience.  That means fewer warranty issues than other brands and local accessibility when things do go wrong.  At R&B we use Carrier for our better / best furnaces and IBC for our boilers.


2. Consider Rebates, Promotions and Grants

Different brands have manufacture discounts in the Fall and Spring.

If you have the choice of timing, look for these deals.  They can often be combined with Fortis BC grants – which are double right now – and other industry incentives to save the most money possible.

Be careful when reviewing quotes though.  Some companies will represent their price after the potential rebates are deducted and others will not.  It can often make a quote look several hundred dollars different.


3. Consider Sizing

Your estimator would have taken into account the square footage of your house, possibly calculated a heat loss, and sized the furnace appropriately.

At R&B we are certified in heat loss calculations.  That enables us to size the heating system perfectly which gives the most economical solution.  If you are planning a substantial renovation, let us know.  We can plan your next heating system to meet your future needs.


4. Consider Air Quality

Now is the time to install improved air filtration appliances.  Ask for add-on pricing for electronic air cleaners or upgraded filters.  If you get all the work done at the same time there can be significant cost savings.


5. Consider Efficiency

Furnace pricing specials often come coupled with a heat pump.  These appliances can increase your efficiency in the winter and cool your home in the summer.  If you plan to be in your home a long time, you can enjoy the added comfort that a heat pump offers and realize a payback on fuel savings as well.

Some communities such as the City of Vancouver, are moving away from natural gas appliances as an efficiency and green initiative.


6. Get Options

At R&B we offer at least two, better or best, allowing you to choose the one that fits your budget while still meeting the heating needs of your home.  We also offer financing.  A new heating system is no small investment and many people will need to pay for it over time.


The leap between needing a heating system and being warmed for the first time by your new purchase is often hurried along more than we are comfortable with by the complete and total failure of the pre-existing unit. That’s why choosing the best heating company is the most valuable first step you can make.  As a consumer, you probably want to choose the best furnace for your house.  With these tips, you can be more informed to ask the right questions so your heating warms not only your home, but your heart too!