Deciding what kind of furnace to buy, and what efficiency works best for your budget, can be a difficult decision to make. The good news is that efficiency in furnaces is now carefully measured, and that means you can figure out how much a new furnace might save you on energy bills before you decide which make and model to buy.
How to Evaluate Efficiency: AFUE
AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. Expressed as a percentage, it specifies the amount of fuel your furnace converts to heat. The remainder is wasted energy.
High-efficiency furnaces have higher AFUE percentages, signifying the low levels of fuel they waste. Current government standards mandate AFUE ratings of 80 percent or higher, and any new furnace you purchase is likely to offer an AFUE rating of somewhere between 80 and 98 percent. That means between 80 and 98 percent of the fuel you pay for will actually be used to heat your home, which is a very good thing.
To put these numbers in perspective, a furnace installed 30-40 years ago might have wasted as much as 30-40 percent of the fuel it burned, depending on how well maintained it was. A furnace that meets the minimal 80% standard today would only waste half that amount.
Cost Comparison: 80% AFUE vs. 96% AFUE Furnace
The cost of a new furnace will vary, based mainly on its AFUE rating. In general you should expect to pay between $1,500 and $4,000 for the furnace alone, not including installation. A furnace with a higher AFUE rating of 96 percent will likely cost you 40-50 percent more than one with an AFUE rating of 80 percent.
That might sound like a significant jump, but it really isn’t when you factor in expected energy savings.
Savings Differential: 80% AFUE vs. 96% AFUE Furnace
With AFUE data available, calculating the savings offered by one furnace over another is a straightforward affair. You simply use the furnace with the lower rating as your baseline, and then take the difference in percentages to compute your expected fuel savings. To put it very simply, a new furnace with an AFUE rating of 96 would produce heating bills 16 percent lower than a furnace with an AFUE of 80.
Of course, if you have an older furnace with uncertain performance, that savings figure could be even higher. If you estimate that your old furnace is operating 10-20 percent less efficiently (which might even be modest if your current furnace isn’t in great working order), and your current winter heating bills run about $100 a month, installing a furnace with a minimum AFUE of 80 could cut your costs down to $80 a month.
Meanwhile, a furnace with an AFUE rating of 96 furnace could potentially reduce your bill to just $64 a month. Over time that savings can really add up.
Needless to say, the size of your savings will depend on the length of the winter and the number of hours you use your furnace each day.
Efficiency Improvements and Other Factors that Can Affect Savings
In addition to installing a new high-efficiency furnace, there are other types of changes you could make that would have an impact as well. Upgrading your insulation, sealing air leaks, weatherstripping around doors and windows, and switching to double-glazed or high solar gain/low-e glass windows can boost your home’s energy-efficiency by a substantial amount, while remodeling or a sudden jump in the price of natural gas could push your heating bills upward.
But regardless of any other changes you make, getting a new furnace with a higher AFUE rating could still cut your winter heating bills by a substantial amount, and with an expected lifespan of 25 or more years (if you are diligent about maintenance), your new furnace should pay for itself in energy savings well before it needs replacement.
Another advantage of installing a new high-efficiency furnace is that it will increase your property’s value should you decide to sell your home within the next few years. That alone could make it worth the investment.
Get High-Efficiency Service from Controlling Systems
If your furnace was installed more than 10 years ago and does not carry the high-efficiency moniker, it might be time to consider an upgrade. While this might require a significant upfront investment, in the long-run that investment could pay off in a big way.
At Controlling Systems we sell high-efficiency furnaces manufactured by Rheem, one of the most esteemed and respected names in the heating and cooling industry. We also employ highly-trained HVAC technicians who can handle any installation job regardless of the challenges involved. If you’re thinking about purchasing a new high-efficiency furnace, please contact us today for more information and to arrange a consultation. If you ultimately decide to do business with us, you’ll join a long list of satisfied customers in Colorado who’ve turned to us in their time of need.