What you should know about furnace energy efficiency
Energy efficiency is one of the top priorities for people looking to purchase a new furnace. That's because the higher a unit's energy efficiency rating, the more likely a homeowner is to see lower utility bills. Highly energy efficient home furnaces simply pay for themselves over time.
But there's more to finding the right furnace for your home than looking for the highest energy efficiency rating possible. Consumers must consider furnace size and upfront cost, too.
To help, we've put together the following information with everything you should know about furnace energy efficiency. Because gas furnaces are by far the most popular furnace type on the market today, we'll focus on that type in this post.
How furnace efficiency is calculated
The most common source of fuel for furnaces is gas. Efficiency for gas-powered furnaces is shown by its annual fuel utilization efficiency rating, or AFUE. This rating is given as a percentage, with higher percentages reflecting how much heat the furnace can produce from each therm of gas it consumes.
Furnaces with better AFUE ratings therefore use less gas, resulting in fewer emissions and provide environmental benefits - a plus for many of today's environmentally conscious consumers.
Furnaces today have much higher AFUE ratings than they did in the past. Today, the lowest rating allowed is 78%. Newer, more efficient models can have ratings of 97%.
Efficiency affects the price of the furnace
The price of a new furnace will likely be determined by its energy efficiency. The higher a furnaces efficiency rating, the more expensive its upfront cost will be.
For example, according to Consumer Reports, a furnace with a 90% AFUE rating could cost about $1,000 more than a furnace that is of a similar size but has an 80% AFUE.
However, that higher initial price tag will be more quickly recouped with a higher efficiency furnace thanks to lower utility bills. This is even more true if you live in colder regions of the country where winters are harsher and furnaces get more of a serious workout.
Look for ENERGY STAR certified furnaces and products
If you want to find a furnace for your home that is as energy efficient as possible, then you will want to look for furnaces that are marked with the ENERGY STAR symbol. These furnaces allow homeowners to stay comfortable home while also saving money on utility bills.
ENERGY STAR is a government program that shows which home products are energy efficient. The program is in place since 1992 to give consumers a trusted source for determining whether the products are in fact energy efficient. Since the program began, ENERGY STAR products have saved families and businesses almost 4 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity.
These products not only save money thanks to their efficiency, but they also improve air quality and protect the climate. Since 1992, the program has led to over 3 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas reductions.
But for individuals, perhaps the biggest benefit is the cost savings. Many products - as well as homes themselves - can be ENERGY STAR certified. Those homes, by the way, are at least 10% more energy efficient than homes that are not certified.
When it comes to ENERGY STAR furnaces, there are a few things consumers should know. For one, gas furnace efficiency requirements, differ based on regions in the U.S. In the northern half of the country, ENERGY STAR certified gas furnaces are up to 15% more energy efficient than other models and can save up to $85 per year in energy costs. In the southern half, ENERGY STAR gas furnaces are up to 11% more efficient and can save about $30 per year.
Furnace size affects efficiency
Choosing a furnace is not as simple as doing a little bit of online research, finding a unit that fits your budget and having it installed. That's not going to work out in the long-term for anyone who tries to go the initial research period without consulting a pro.
That's because the furnace you decide to buy has to meet the needs of your home, specifically how much space you need the furnace to heat. If the furnace is too small, then it won't be able to keep up in winter and keep you house warm.
Some homeowners will try to overestimate their needs to avoid this, but that strategy doesn't always pay off, either. A furnace that is too large for a home not only could cost more than necessary, but it also could cause the unit to cycle on and off way too frequently. A furnace that cycles too frequently is going to see more wear on its parts over time, waste more energy and could overheat a home to the point of it being uncomfortable.
Work with a pro to find the right furnace for your home
The best way to find the right furnace for your home is to work with a trusted professional or reputable contractor who can the furnace size, type and energy efficiency needs of your house. An experienced HVAC technician will be able to look at the size of your home, its design, how it is constructed and more factors to recommend a furnace.
This pro will also very likely be able to install the furnace correctly for you. A good technician can also provide you with all the information you need to know in order to keep the unit operating as efficiently and for as long as possible.
By working with a pro, you also will avoid costly mistakes. Consumer Reports indicate that most service calls are for reasons relating to human error or improper maintenance, not for equipment that isn't working right.
Contact Comfortec to talk about replacing your furnace
Is it time to think about replacing your furnace? Contact our experienced team of HVAC professionals to discuss your options and how to find the right energy efficient furnace for your home.
Comfortec is proud to serve Spirit Lake, Estherville and surrounding Iowa Great Lakes region communities. No matter your home's heating, cooling or plumbing needs, you can count on Comfortec to provide exceptional and reliable service.
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