Can I Really Save Money with a High Efficiency Furnace?
November 16, 2021Categories: Heating
What is a high-efficiency furnace anyway? When talking about furnaces, efficiency refers to how successfully the system can convert energy into heat for your home. So, a high-efficiency furnace is one that effectively produces heat with little energy waste. A furnace’s efficiency is rated by a measurement called AFUE, which stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. AFUE is calculated by measuring the amount of heat in British Thermal Units (BTU) compared to the amount of fuel used in the same amount of time.
The Department of Energy requires manufacturers to display a system’s AFUE rating on the unit with a yellow Energy Guide sticker. When choosing a new furnace, it’s important to check the AFUE rating to make sure it’s an energy efficient system. We’ll get into what AFUE rating to look for later in this post.
How Does a High Efficiency Furnace Work?
So now that we know that a high-efficiency furnace makes better use of its fuel supply to effectively create heat for your home, let’s get into how the furnace is able to do this.
High-efficiency furnaces produce such little waste because they use the exhaust from the first part of the heating process to create even more heat. While a standard furnace only has a single heat exchanger, a high-efficiency system has two. With this second exchanger, the system is able to condense the exhaust vapor that would otherwise be released as waste into a liquid. This process of condensation causes a release of more heat, providing additional warmth to be sent into the ventilation system. The energy that would have been wasted is reused, saving you money on your energy bill.
How to Choose a High Efficiency Furnace
Not all high-efficiency furnaces are created equal; some systems waste less energy than others. So how do you know which unit is right for your home?
When purchasing a high-efficiency furnace, it’s important to compare systems’ AFUE ratings. But what is a good AFUE rating? By today’s standards, older, low efficiency systems are 56% – 70% AFUE, mid-efficiency systems are 80% – 83% AFUE, and high-efficiency systems are 90% – 98.5% AFUE. Higher efficiency models often come with a higher price tag. But their energy savings will save money on your heating bill in the long run.
Choosing a furnace can be confusing. Comparing AFUE ratings is helpful, but it’s important to consider additional factors before choosing a system. An HVAC professional can help you calculate the best furnace for your home based on its size, thermostat settings, fuel type, and more. They can also show you the difference in potential savings between models.
Additionally, you can look to see if a furnace has an ENERGY STAR. ENERGY STAR uses AFUE ratings and other strict criteria for its certification.
ENERGY STAR Requirements for Furnaces
Furnaces with an ENERGY STAR meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA.
There are different requirements for different regions of the country. The southern half of the U.S., where homes require less heat, has unique “U.S. South” ENERGY STAR labels. To be certified, gas furnaces must have a rating of 90% AFUE or higher. These systems are up to 11% more efficient than standard models and can save an average of $30 a year in energy costs.
Here in Ohio, in the northern half of the U.S., we’ll see standard ENERGY STAR labels. To be certified, gas furnaces must have a rating of 95% AFUE or higher. U.S. North ENERGY STAR furnaces will be up to 15% more energy-efficient than baseline models and can save up to $85 a year in energy costs.
Oil furnaces in both regions must have a rating of 85% AFUE or greater.
How You Can Save Money with a High Efficiency Furnace
To save money with a high-efficiency furnace, the lifetime energy savings must be greater than the additional up-front cost compared to a less efficient option. Luckily, ENERGY STAR considers this when certifying their products, so you can assume that your savings on each bill will make purchasing an energy efficiency system worthwhile. You can also consider the AFUE rating. The higher the AFUE rating, the less fuel it takes to heat your home, meaning you will pay for less fuel each month.
How soon you will start saving money depends on your furnace usage, home size, and other factors. Talk to an HVAC professional to learn more about your specific savings.
Trust Martinov, Your Akron Heating and Cooling Specialist
Thinking about installing a high-efficiency furnace? Want to know if replacing your furnace is the right choice? We can answer any questions and help you select the best furnace for your home. You can trust the experts at Martinov Home Solutions to properly install a high-efficiency furnace in your home to guarantee energy savings. Contact us today for a free, in-home estimate.