High efficiency furnaces produce and deliver heat using less energy than the conventional model you probably have in your basement right now. A furnace uses energy to produce and deliver heat. Most homes are heated with either furnaces or boilers. Furnaces heat air and distribute the heated air through the house using ducts. Boilers heat water, yielding either hot water or steam for heating. Because steam boilers operate at a higher temperature than hot water boilers, they are inherently less efficient. Fortunately, high-efficiency versions of all types of furnaces and boilers are currently available.
So how is a furnace rated for efficiency? The more heat your furnace can deliver with a given amount of energy, the better. Furnace manufacturers strive to produce appliances that both burn fuel efficiently and require minimal energy (typically electricity) to run the blowers that circulate the heat to the house. Upgrading to a high efficiency furnace or boiler is an effective way to save money on home heating.
Furnaces today are given an energy efficiency rating, the AFUE, or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. This rating is in the form of a percent, the ratio of annual heat output of the furnace compared to the amount of annual fuel energy it consumes. For example, if a furnace has an AFUE of 80%, it means 80% of the energy in the fossil fuel is being converted to heat while 20% escapes and is wasted. Newer gas furnaces can reach upwards of 98% AFUE so nearly all of the energy from the fuel is effectively used to heat the home. Because an all-electric furnace or boiler has no flue loss through a chimney, its AFUE rating is between 95% and 100%.
Call the heating experts at Charter Oak Mechanical to find out where your current furnace falls on the AFUE rating. As an experienced local dealer, we can help you decide whether a higher efficiency furnace would save you money on energy.