What Is a Modulating Furnace, How Do They Work & Are They Worth It in Iowa?

August 25, 2021

How Modulating Furnaces Provides Benefits

If you’re getting ready to upgrade your furnace in the next few years, consider installing a modulating furnace instead of a traditional, single-stage furnace. Modulating furnaces are energy efficient and provide better whole-home heating, leading to greater home comfort and lower utility bills.

What Is A Modulating Furnace?

A modulating furnace is a type of home heating system with a burner that adjusts the amount of fuel burned incrementally. The modulating gas valve, paired with a variable-speed blower, provides outstanding efficiency and economical heating performance compared to traditional single-stage gas furnaces.

How Is A Modulating Home Furnace Different Than A Single Or Two Stage Furnace?

Modulating furnaces offer greater temperature control and energy efficiency than single-stage or two-stage furnaces. A single-stage furnace has only two settings: on or off. A two-stage furnace has three options: low, high or off. Modulating furnaces are highly adjustable and can have dozens of stages.

How Does A Modulating Furnace Work?

When a modulating furnace is running, both the gas valve and the blower fan are constantly adjusting to keep your home at your desired temperature. A single-stage furnace runs at 100% capacity to heat your home according to your thermostat settings, and then it shuts off. This can cause temperature swings and inconsistent temperatures.

A two-stage furnace performs slightly better than a single-stage system. Temperature swings are less dramatic because the furnace can run on the lower setting to maintain your desired temperature instead of just shutting off and turning back on.

Because there are so many settings available, modulating furnaces have the easiest time maintaining a consistent temperature throughout your home.

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Source: Fire & Ice Heating and Air Conditioning

Is a Modulating Furnace Worth It In Iowa?

Although a modulating furnace is more expensive up front, it's definitely worth the cost if you're looking for greater control over your temperature settings and increased energy efficiency. You can make up some of the cost of installation when you consider the savings on your utility bills over time.

Iowa’s weather can be very extreme, and it gets very cold in the winter. Maintaining a comfortable temperature during the winter can be challenging and expensive with a single-stage or two-stage furnace, and you could run into issues with short cycling your system.

What Happens When a Furnace Is Short Cycling?

Short cycling can happen on winter days where it’s cold but not extremely cold outside. The furnace, receiving the thermostat's signal to turn on the furnace, kicks into 100% operation, quickly warms the house to the thermostat setting, then shuts down until it turns on again. This process repeats itself over and over with short intervals between on and off.

Short cycling wastes energy, and the start-and-stop operation also can result in uneven heating, with noticeable temperature swings. Iowa households can greatly benefit from a modulating furnace system that can lower heating costs and provide a consistently warm and cozy home during the colder months.

4 Benefits Of Modulating Home Furnaces For Iowans:

Increased Energy Efficiency and Savings On Energy Bills

With a modulating furnace, you can avoid short-cycling your system, which cuts back on the amount of fuel used and means less wear on the furnace. This means long-term savings in all areas: lower bills, less maintenance and a longer life for your furnace.

More Consistent Comfort

Your home will be more comfortable when your furnace has variable settings and greater sensitivity to your thermostat settings. Forget about the wide temperature swings you’ve experienced with single-stage systems and enjoy a consistently cozy home even during the coldest Iowa winter.

Better Air Quality

Modulating furnaces generally spend a lot of time operating on a very low setting. This means using less fuel and a lower blower setting. A lower blower setting means air is flowing through your system at a lower pressure. Generally, slower air flow helps your furnace filter’s efficiency and improves indoor air quality.

Reduced Furnace Noise

A bonus perk of a modulating furnace is that it is noticeably quieter than a traditional staged system. Because it doesn’t need to run on full-blast to keep you warm, the fan blows slower and quieter.

Wondering If A Modulating Home Furnace Makes Sense For You? Get a Quote From A Lozier Certified HVAC Technician!

For more information about modulating furnace installation, repair or maintenance, reach out to Lozier Heating & Cooling. Our technicians have experience installing and fixing all types of furnaces, including single-stage, two-stage and modulating systems. Contact us for a quote on a new system, reach out for a repair appointment or give us a call today!