What is AFUE?
The rating system for furnace efficiency is called AFUE, which stands for annual fuel utilization efficiency. Understanding AFUE percentage rates will help you make an informed buying decision when it comes to choosing a new furnace. The AFUE rating system tells you how efficiently a given furnace model can convert gas into heating energy. The rating is measured as a percentage. The higher the percentage, the more heat a furnace can pull from every bit of gas.
Over the last few decades, furnaces have become extremely energy efficient. For example, an average gas furnace from the 1970s would have an AFUE rating of 65%. Today, the lowest efficiency rating for a new gas furnace is 78%. Top-of-the-line furnaces can boast energy ratings as high as 97%.
What are the differences between a high-efficiency furnace vs. mid-efficiency furnace?
High-efficiency furnaces are better for the environment than mid-efficiency furnaces. They use fewer emissions, making them an ideal choice for the environmentally-conscious. Price is also another consideration when comparing a high-efficiency furnace vs. mid-efficiency furnace.
Usually, the higher the AFUE rating, the more expensive a furnace will be. For example, furnaces with a 90% AFUE rating can cost as much as $1000 more than a unit that’s the same size, but only has an AFUE rating of 80%. While the steeper upfront cost might seem off-putting, people who invest in a high-efficiency furnace can recoup their money with lower utility bills. This is especially true in areas that are known for having harsh, long winters.
How quickly will you recoup the investment for a high-efficiency furnace?
Getting your money’s worth out of a high-efficiency model depends on more than just the AFUE rating. For one thing, the electricity that’s used to run furnaces with different AFUE ratings can vary, which changes the overall costs of the unit. How well the house is insulated, what the weather is like, and your local gas and utility rates will also impact the amount of time it will take to recoup your investment.
Next up in the Furnace Buyer’s Guide series, we’ll cover the differences between stage, versus modulating furnaces and what you need to know. Contact us at James Air Heating and Cooling today to learn more about our range energy-efficient furnace models.