Understanding Your New Furnace’s Energy Efficiency Rating

Pop quiz time: what's the most important part of a new furnace installation? If you answered, "choosing the right furnace," then you're on the right track. Your furnace is one of your home's most expensive and essential appliances. Installing a new furnace is a big decision, and it is crucial to choose the right one so that you can avoid costly repairs and devastating utility bills. There are many factors to consider when selecting between furnace models, but energy efficiency should be at the top of your list. This guide will help you to decode furnace energy efficiency ratings so that you can make the right choice for your home.

Decoding Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency

One of several prominent numbers displayed on the product page for any furnace is the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). This number is expressed as a percentage. As its name implies, the AFUE indicates the amount of fuel converted by your furnace into useful heat. A higher AFUE value indicates a more efficient furnace, and furnaces that exceed 90% efficiency are considered to be high-efficiency units. In the United States, all new units are required by law to meet or exceed 80% AFUE.

It may seem obvious that a higher number is better, but the AFUE can provide you with more immediately practical information as well. Since the AFUE measures annual usage, comparing the operating costs of two furnaces is straightforward. For US households, the average annual cost of heating is about $600. If you are using an older furnace with an AFUE of around 60%, then you are spending $360 per year to heat your home. That extra $240 vanishes into waste heat. For a more precise estimate, you can use an AFUE calculator to determine your savings by upgrading to a more fuel-efficient unit.

Choosing Between Standard and High-Efficiency Units

Now that you understand how to read the efficiency numbers provided on a furnace, it's time to decide which is right for your home. While furnaces are available with a range of AFUE values, most broadly fit into the standard (less than 90% AFUE) or high-efficiency (90% or higher AFUE) categories. High-efficiency units tend to be more expensive, but they are also designed differently and may require special installation considerations.

When choosing between these two options, consider the upfront cost of the unit versus the potential energy savings. Additionally, be sure to speak with a qualified furnace installer to uncover any significant installation cost differences. By consulting with a professional, you can determine if the extra cost of a higher-efficiency unit will pay off over the lifetime of the furnace.

Reach out to a furnace installation company to learn more.