Is Your Furnace As Efficient As You Think? Here’s How to Find Out

a tech checking if a furnace is effective

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Homeowners in the U.S. spend around $5 billion a year heating their homes. Believe it or not, this number does not include the cost of electricity to power heating and cooling systems! Most homeowners don’t take the time to assess their home’s heating needs and instead follow their programmable thermostat settings, which could be costing them a lot more than they think. 

Is Your Furnace Running Efficiently?

The furnace is the heart of your home’s heating system. It heats air throughout your home to maintain a comfortable temperature, but it can be energy inefficient. Before you buy a new furnace, there are some things you should know about how to choose an efficient one. Here are a few things you can look for in your furnace to check its energy efficiency, as well as what to look out for when you’re in the market for a new furnace.

Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE)

The first thing you should know about a furnace is its AFUE rating. All furnaces come with this rating, and it indicates just how much energy and fuel your system consumes compared to the heat it generates.

A furnace with an AFUE rating of seventy-five percent, for example, means that the furnace is successfully turning seventy-five percent of the fuel it burns into usable heat while the other twenty-five percent is lost. Older furnaces have ratings between fifty and seventy percent, while a high-efficiency furnace will have a rating between ninety and ninety-eight percent.

Knowing the AFUE rating of the furnace in your home heating system is the first and most crucial step to knowing if your furnace works efficiently. Check your rating by looking at the Department of Energy’s Energy Guide sticker (which is required to be on all new furnaces) or directly with the manufacturer. 

High-Efficiency Furnaces

A furnace accounts for almost half of the monthly utility bill in many homes. If you’ve ever been stunned by your heating costs, having a high-efficiency furnace is one way for homeowners to save money.

Not all furnaces are the same. High-efficiency furnaces are made with parts and technology specially designed to get as much warm air as possible from the fuel the unit uses. A combination of special motors, smart controls that adjust to humidity levels and other conditions, and gas valves all work together to produce maximum heat with as little energy consumption as possible. 

Some HVAC system features are fancier than others, and if your furnace doesn’t have these, don’t worry—you can still have a high-efficiency furnace without them. High-efficiency furnaces could cost a few thousand dollars more, but they save homeowners more than that in heating costs throughout their lifespan.

Dual Heat Exchangers

A heat exchanger is a device that transfers heat from one fluid to another by flowing both fluids in opposite directions in parallel pipes. How many heat exchangers does your furnace have? The primary heat exchanger will convert most of the energy into heat. The secondary exchanger will take care of the rest; this helps the furnace maintain itself in the high-efficiency range.

high-efficiency furnace infographic

Electric vs. Gas Furnaces

A furnace is a significant purchase for any household, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into before making that final decision. There are two main types: electric and gas furnaces. Gas furnaces generally cost less, but they also release more carbon dioxide. Electric furnaces cost more upfront but produce less carbon dioxide and other pollutants; they’re also quieter and more manageable for furnace maintenance.

Electric furnaces are, by design, highly efficient. They use heating coils to generate heat instead of burning propane or natural gas, similar to a toaster. Efficiency ratings usually don’t apply to electric furnaces since there’s no fuel being consumed and converted into heat, eliminating wasted energy.

However, electric furnaces can be economically inefficient and aren’t always the most cost-effective choice. These units have to stay on to continue heating the home and will increase your energy bill. If you must use electricity to heat your home, consider investing in a heat pump or a more efficient alternative. 

Need a New Furnace? Call the HVAC Experts

Whether you’re in the market for energy-efficient furnaces or curious about your own furnace’s efficiency and how it measures up, your best option is to contact an HVAC professional for an official diagnosis and inspection. Home Comfort USA will assist you with the purchase, furnace installation, and maintenance of your unit—all while providing exceptional customer service. 

Home Comfort USA is a family-owned and operated HVAC company, so join the family today and schedule an appointment for all of your furnace repair and heating needs. 

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