What Should I Know About My Furnace?

If you grew up in a first-world country, you likely know that a furnace works to heat residences and businesses in the colder months. While this is a comfort that most people appreciate and cannot imagine living without, the average person knows very little about furnaces. You may think you can simply leave that knowledge to the HVAC technicians, and you could, but it can be essential to know some facts to help you with your future furnace decision-making skills.

How did the furnace get its name?

It’s a fun little fact to know that the furnace was named for a location and was originally a family name. The Anglo-Saxons lived in southern Cumberland, in a district known as Furness. The ties from the Furness family to the furnace appliance are challenging to trace, though it is known the furnace goes back to the Roman Empire. However, the idea of the gas furnace came from African American Alice H. Parker, who invented the basis of the furnace that is used today.

Why are furnaces important?

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine this: the outside temperature is reaching subzero and a draft can be felt near the window. The cold air sets a chill in your bones, and the lack of interior heat means that the night will only grow colder. Sickness will likely set in and will be difficult to fight off in the absence of warmth.

Now open your eyes and realize the modern amenity you find yourself in. Your home or place of business is warm, insulated, and cozy. Living without a furnace in the 21st century would be more challenging than most people would admit. Heat allows people to fight off illness easier, keep children warm, and enables creature comforts that not all countries have.

Four Kinds of Furnaces

The kind of furnace in your home typically has to do with where you are located and the needs for the area. Where an electric furnace may be appropriate in some areas, colder regions may risk losing power and heat. Knowing which kind of furnace you have can help you prepare for the colder season adequately.

Natural Gas

The most common type of furnace in the United States is Natural Gas. This option is the cheapest and most efficient in heating homes.


Electric heating is another standard option in the US. While the furnace itself is inexpensive and durable, the cost of heating via electricity can be exorbitant.


A propane furnace serves homes that cannot get more costly or rare fuel. This kind of heating is more common in rural areas that frequently experience power outages.


An oil furnace is cheaper to buy and install than a natural gas furnace. Although it is not quite as efficient as the natural gas method, it still serves to heat homes well.

When to Use Your Furnace

Some people have a rule of thumb regarding when to turn on their heat. However, there is no specific outside temperature that indicates the heating for the inside is necessary. Check your interior temperature instead of paying attention solely to the outside temperature. Most experts agree that when your home is nearing 64 degrees Fahrenheit, it is time to turn on the furnace. It is important to remember that you should also take personal preference into account and the health and safety of those living within the home. The elderly, small children, and ill persons would be better off turning on the heat sooner.

Furnace Services in Boston, MA: MRW Mechanical

No one wants to be stuck without interior heating amid the coldest season. It can get cold in Massachusetts quickly in the wintertime. In Massachusetts, contact MRW mechanical for repair services today. We are experts in diagnosing, repairing, and replacing furnaces and are prepared to assist you in staying warm any winter!

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