Home energy efficiency is quite the hot button issue in recent years as homeowners try to spend less money, conserve energy, and pollute less while maintaining the level of comfort to which they are accustomed. One of the best places to start your home energy audit is with the furnace itself.
Even if your old furnace appears to be working just fine, there are a number of worthwhile benefits to replacing it with a newer model. Thanks to the incredible improvements in technology over the last few decades, modern furnace designs are much more efficient than their older cousins. Not only will these newer models help you save money on energy in the long run, they will also help you maintain a more comfortable home with less temperature fluctuation and much less noise from your furnace. As heating can account for as much as 30% of a home’s total energy usage, increasing the efficiency of your heating can go a surprisingly long way in reducing your monthly energy bills.
Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings
Modern furnaces are rated based on how efficiently they convert fuel into usable heat as the more heat you can get from a specific amount of energy, the more efficiently your furnace is operating. All furnaces use energy to produce and deliver heat to your home but newer designs not only burn fuel more efficiently, they also require less energy to operate the blowers which then circulate that heat throughout your home.
All new furnaces are required by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to include their Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency rating on a yellow EnergyGuide label. This label lists the estimated annual operating costs under specific conditions as well as an efficiency rating from 80-98.5%. This rating represents the ratio of fuel that is converted in usable heat, making it quite straightforward. The higher the percentage, the more efficient that model is at converting energy into heat for your home. The highest performing models are able to achieve a 98.5% efficiency rating, using almost no power at all to help that heat travel throughout your home.
While most homeowners will want to purchase the most efficient model they can, this is not always the best decision from a financial point of view. As more efficient models tend to be more expensive, it is worth considering your climate before making a purchase. For those who live in colder climates, the highest efficiency furnaces are likely a good choice. For those living in more moderate or temperate climates, however, it may not always be worth the investment to get the most efficient model on the market.