During the cold winter months, your furnace works hard to heat the air and send it throughout your home. Some of this heat is lost as the heated air travels through the ducts to its destination while some is lost through the chimney. While your furnace may still be providing enough heat to keep you comfortable, you are still paying for the heat that is lost. If you have an older or inefficient furnace, your energy bill may be high, making you more hesitant to run the heat.
Furnace Efficiency Ratings
A furnace’s efficiency standard is AFUE, or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. This standard is used to show consumers how efficient the furnace is at converting energy to heat over one year. AFUE is shown as a ratio of the output of heat that directly heats the home or business over the energy that is used.
As an example, a furnace that has an AFUE of 95 percent means that 95% of the energy the furnace uses goes towards directly heating the home or business. The remaining 5% is vented to the outdoors. In general, newer furnaces are more likely to have a higher AFUE than older furnaces.
Some high AFUE furnaces may also have an ENERGY STAR label, a symbol that is awarded to certain products by the Environmental Protection Agency. This label indicates that the furnace has been proven through verified testing to save the home or business owner money while reducing the amount of green house gases that are produced. Although furnaces with an ENERGY STAR label may have a higher upfront expense, consumers will recover the cost of their investment through energy savings.
Why Furnace Efficiency Matters
The number one reason you may want to upgrade to a new, more energy efficient furnace is to save money. Because newer furnaces use more of their energy to actually heat the home or business, the furnace does not have to work as hard or as long to make your living or working space comfortable.
Efficient furnaces have an environmental benefit in addition to a cost benefit. If every home and business replaced their outdated furnaces with highly efficient heating equipment, the EPA estimates that the annual amount of greenhouse gasses emitted in the United States would be equivalent to taking 177,000 cars off the roads.
Should I Retrofit or Replace My Furnace?
Older furnaces can be upgraded to become more efficient. However, this process can be costly; homeowners or building owners should weigh the cost of a retrofit with the cost of a furnace replacement. If you choose to retrofit your furnace, you will most likely have a vent or flue damper installed to close off the chimney when the furnace is not running.
If your furnace is older than 10 years, it is likely that it has an AFUE in the range of 56 to 70 percent. That mean up to 44% of your fuel is directly released through the chimney as wasted energy. Because some new models have AFUE ratings between 90 to 98 percent, it may be more cost-effective in the long run to bite the bullet and install a new furnace. Over time, the energy savings provided by a new furnace will allow you to recover your investment.
Choose an Efficient furnace
Ultimately, replacing your old furnace has financial and environmental benefits. When you’re looking to replace your furnace, we can discuss your to make sure that you’re getting the right furnace that works for your home or business. When you are choosing your new furnace, be sure to check the AFUE before making a commitment.