Furnace Efficiency Is Reflected in That AFUE Rating – What It Means to Your Comfort

October 30, 2013
Ross and Witmer

Fall is here, and winter is on its way. You know what that means: heating bills. Keeping your house warm through the North Carolina winter can run into some money. So it’s essential that your furnace operate as efficiently as possible, to minimize those costs. How do you find the most efficient furnace? You look at the AFUE rating.

AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. It measures the average percentage of a furnace or boiler’s fuel that’s used as heat over the course of a year. The higher the rating, the more efficient the furnace is. So for instance, a rating of 85 percent would mean that the furnace turns 85 percent of its fuel into usable heat and gives off 15 percent as waste or exhaust.

If you have a furnace more than 12-15 years old, the AFUE rating almost certainly low when compared to modern high-efficiency systems, and it’s probably time to at least consider investing in a new one. Technology has improved over the years, so that whereas a couple of decades ago, many furnaces had AFUE ratings of 65 percent or less, today, high-efficiency furnaces can operate at up to 98 percent efficiency.

Federal regulations for minimum gas furnace AFUE levels are currently in a state of flux due to a pending federal court case. Until that’s resolved, the old minimum AFUE for indoor gas furnaces will remain at 78 percent. Higher ratings – AFUE 95 percent and above – however, can bring you a $150 federal tax credit. In general, higher efficiency furnaces cost more than low-efficiency ones, though the payback in lower energy bills can more than compensate for the investment, especially in areas with cold winters.

You can find the AFUE rating on the furnace’s yellow EnergyGuide Label. If your furnace is 15 years old or older, needs to be repaired often, or is simply costing you way too much in energy bills, look into a newer, more efficient model to get you through the winter.

To learn more about what furnaces have the best AFUE rating for your Charlotte area home, contact our experts at Ross & Witmer today.

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