The purchase of a new furnace is a major decision and investment, one that requires a good amount of research and deliberation. It will influence not just your comfort on a day-to-day basis, but it will also dictate how much you spend on energy costs each month. The upfront cost may be the main factor you are looking at but it could represent as little as five percent of the lifetime costs over the span of 15 years. That’s why the AFUE rating is just as important of a deciding factor, if not more so.
AFUE stands for annual fuel utilization efficiency, and is the standard measurement of efficiency for heating equipment. It is based on the heat output of a furnace compared to the total fuel consumption. In other words, if 80 percent of the fuel consumed by a furnace gets converted to heat that directly warms your house, while the other 20 percent gets expelled through a flue or elsewhere, it has a 80 percent AFUE. To be considered high-efficiency, equipment must be 90 percent efficient or better.
Older systems may have ratings as low as 60 percent. Though San Antonio residents don’t need the absolute highest efficiency, an upgrade to a mid- or high-efficiency system — 80 percent or better — can drastically slash your heating costs and keep your house warmer during the winter.
There are essentially two different types of furnaces: condensing and non-condensing. Condensing units use the heat from water vapor that is created during the combustion process, making them as much as 97 percent efficient. Such high ratings aren’t as important in warmer climates, so you can save some money by getting a furnace with a lower rating.
Homeowners will sometimes try to boost the efficiency of their old furnace by upgrading certain components. This is called retrofitting, and may give you a temporary boost in efficiency, but if you plan on having that furnace for years to come, it may be more cost-effective to go with a whole system upgrade.
For more help selecting the right furnace for your home, contact Beyer Boystoday.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).