What is a high-efficiency furnance – and is it worth the price?
The word “efficiency” gets thrown around a lot these days. As far as homes go, everyone wants to make sure they have efficient appliances as well as efficient heating and cooling systems installed in their homes.
There is a good reason for this, too. An energy-efficient appliance, furnace or air conditioner will, if installed and operated correctly, should save homeowners money.
This time of year, as winter enters its coldest stretches, homeowners are trying to squeeze that cost savings from their heating bills. This means furnaces that are considered efficient should perform better and result in lower utility charges – and high efficiency furnaces should get even more desirable results.
But what is a high efficiency furnace? Is simply energy-efficient sufficient? And if a high efficiency model comes with a hefty price tag, then is it an investment that will pay off and be worth the higher upfront purchase cost?
Let’s take a look.
What is efficiency?
As it relates to furnaces (and other heating and cooling systems and appliances), energy efficiency simply means less energy is used to perform the desired function. In the case of a furnace, this is heating a home or other type of building.
According to Energy Star, a program associated with the U.S. Department of Energy, energy efficiency also results in lower energy utility costs and less pollution, too.
You can tell if a product is considered efficient if it carries the Energy Star seal.
Energy Star certified furnaces are efficient
Furnaces that carry this Energy Star seal certification are considered efficient.
To qualify for the seal, a furnace model must meet certain requirements for energy efficiency that are set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
These furnaces must also meet performance requirements, though. These can vary by region throughout the country.
In the northern half of the US, though, an efficient gas furnace will have the Energy Star logo if they are up to 15% more efficient than base models and will save up to $85 per year while in use in energy costs.
In some cases, an oil furnace might be used. These will have the Energy Star logo if they are up to 4% more efficient than base models and can save homeowners up to $75 in energy costs.
Ideally, though, if you purchase a furnace model that has the Energy Star logo, you can assume you will have a certain level of efficiency and some cost savings. You are also doing your part in protecting the climate.
Understanding furnace efficiency
Not all energy efficient furnaces can be called high efficiency furnaces – although you may hear the term thrown around loosely in some spaces.
To understand whether a furnace is high efficiency, you need to understand how furnace efficiency is measured. This is done by measuring a unit’s annual fuel utilization efficiency, or AFUE for short. You should be able to find this rating on all new furnaces. Just look for the yellow “Energy Guide” sticker.
The AFUE shows how efficiency a specific furnace unit takes energy and turns it into heat for your house. AFUE ratings can range from 80% to 98.5%. This percentage is determined by taking the furnace’s total fossil fuel consumed in a year that is converted into heat that can be used and pushed throughout a building.
For example, you have a furnace with a 98.5% AFUE rating, then it is converting that percentage of its fuel consumed into heat. That’s obviously a good thing, as it means lower energy bills for you. On the other end, though, a furnace with an 80% AFUE rating is not as efficient and will not result in much cost savings.
What makes a furnace “high efficient”?
A furnace has to meet a certain threshold for the Department of Energy to actually consider it to be a high efficient model.
To earn this honor, a furnace needs to have an AFUE rating of at least 90%. Models with ratings between 80% and 83% are considered to be mid efficiency.
What kind of price difference are we talking about?
Understandably, a high efficiency furnace is going to be more expensive than base or mid efficiency models. The key is calculating how much will be saved down the road to determine whether it’s a worthy investment for your home.
For gas models, though, a high efficiency model may run anywhere from $3,000 to $12,500 depending on the unit. Traditional gas furnaces, for comparison, will likely be in teh $1,500 to $5,000 range.
Do you need a high efficiency furnace?
So, if you are in the market for a new furnace, should you go with a high efficiency model? No, not necessarily. Depending on where you live, a costly high efficiency furnace may not actually be necessary to efficiently heat your home.
Yes, a highly efficient furnace will be cheaper to operate, but will it pay for itself? That can come down to several different factors that need considering, and it’s not just the type of weather climate you are living in.
For example, upgrading to a high efficiency furnace may require additional upgrades and improvements, including adapting to cooler high efficiency exhaust and modifications to your chimney for venting.
But, generally speaking, if you are in a climate that Comfortec Plumbing, Heating and Cooling services, then it’s likely that a high efficiency furnace will pay for itself after a while in the way of less fuel consumption and lower heating bills.
Talk to a pro at Comfortec about a new furnace
Is it time to get your home’s furnace replaced or serviced? Consult a pro from Comfortec and we will either get your existing unit back in top shape or give you a better idea of options for getting a new unit installed.
So, let’s get the conversation started. Give us a call toll free at 888-362-2106 or use our online form to request a quote.
You can also schedule a service call here and we’ll have a pro headed out in no time to get you back to being comfortable in your home.
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