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An Overview of Furnace Efficiency Ratings

The concepts of furnace efficiency and furnace efficiency ratings originated with the 1987 National Appliance Energy Conservation Act. Since then, household appliances have been held to energy standards that help improve the overall energy efficiency of the United States and continue to be an important aspect when considering furnace installation.

So, what are furnace efficiency ratings? Why do they matter? And how does it affect your decision-making when purchasing a new furnace? Read on for our professional insight into furnace efficiency ratings.

What are Furnace Efficiency Ratings?

All furnaces that generate heat with a flame need to be vented. They produce carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas, and those vented gasses allow some of the heat to escape. Efficiency is defined as the annual heat output of the furnace divided by the annual energy it consumes. This ratio is called the Average Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE).

Your furnace’s AFUE number, displayed as a percentage, likely falls anywhere between 60% and 100%, and the higher the number, the more efficient the furnace. You'll find this number on the front faceplate of your furnace or by looking up the unit’s serial number.

As an example, a furnace with an 80% AFUE rating converts 80% of the fuel it requires into heat and loses the remaining 20% to the combustion process. However, it is important to note that AFUE ratings do not account for energy loss due to poor insulation, ductwork, or drafty windows and doors.

Why Does Furnace Efficiency Matter?

Furnace efficiency is important for many different stakeholders. For yourself, an efficient furnace requires less energy for the same amount of heating. This means lower energy expenses when compared to less-efficient alternatives.

Furnace efficiency also benefits the environment for the same reason. More efficient heating systems require less energy – less energy means a smaller demand from power plants and a smaller carbon footprint as a result.

Today, efficiency standards from the federal government require an AFUE rating of at least 80% to be on the market and 90% to be considered Energy Star certified. Most furnaces fall in the low to mid-80s.

Higher efficiency furnaces will cost more upfront but will save on energy consumption over time. Save money in the future by investing in high efficiency with your furnace installation!

What Impacts Furnace Efficiency?

Several variables impact the efficiency rating of furnaces and will be especially important during furnace installation. Overall, furnace efficiency varies based on the:

  • Fossil fuel or electricity used (coal vs. gas vs. renewable energy)
  • Size of the unit
  • Ignition style
  • Blower style
  • Exhaust style
  • Type of heat exchanger
  • Sealed or unsealed combustion system

Each of these will impact the AFUE rating and each will be unique depending on the brand, type, and style of furnace you choose. If you need help choosing the right furnace for your home, consider consulting the help of furnace installation professionals.

Ways to Improve Furnace Efficiency

Furnace efficiency can be tricky because there are other factors beyond the AFUE rating that have an impact on overall efficiency. Factors that directly affect the efficiency outside of AFUE include:

  • Attic and wall insulation
  • Energy-efficient windows and doors
  • Updated ductwork or chimney lining
  • Thermostat upgrade
  • Sealed entryways around pipes
  • Well-placed and maintained radiators
  • Clean furnace filters
  • Direct indoor sunlight

It’s very important that you consider the heating efficiency of your home from a holistic perspective. AFUE rating is key, but other action steps such as improved insulation, clean furnace filters, and energy-efficient windows can also increase your heating efficiency.

In addition to investing in a high-efficiency furnace, what other upgrades will make a big difference in heating efficiency in your home? Consult a furnace installation professional to discuss the possibilities!

Need Help with a Furnace Installation?

Furnace efficiency ratings give fantastic insight into your home’s heating system by helping you understand how it performs against the standard. A quick and easy way to measure efficiency is through the AFUE rating on all furnaces but be aware that there are other factors that contribute to heating efficiency that are not represented in the AFUE rating.

If you have more questions or are considering a furnace installation, contact the experts at WM Buffington. Our team of trusted professionals will walk you through the entire process, saving you time, money, and peace of mind.

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