That time has come—you’re looking for a new heating system and you’re a bit unsure what to go with. When you’re in the market for a furnace replacement, there are number of factors to consider. Perhaps the most important factor is how efficient your new heating system will be. After all, you want to be as comfortable as possible as affordably as possible, right?
But what’s the most efficient? And does it make a difference whether you get a gas or electric furnace when it comes to monthly energy costs?
We’re going to get into this below. The answers are a little more complicated than you might think. First off, what efficiency is—efficiency is the rating of the heating output of the furnace compared to the amount of energy it actually consumes. This doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that a furnace with a higher efficiency rating will automatically cost you less to operate from month to month. Read on to learn more!
Rating Furnace Efficiency
It’s first important for us to explain how furnaces are actually rated for efficiency. When you look at any furnace’s statistics, you’ll notice an initialism: AFUE. AFUE stands for annual fuel utilization efficiency, and this is the measurement for energy efficiency for furnaces.
This rating is listed as a percentage, and identifies the amount of energy source that your furnace converts directly into heat energy that gets sent through your home.
The remaining energy goes to waste in the form of exhaust. So, a mid-efficiency gas furnace with an AFUE rating of 80% means that it converts 80% of the natural gas that it burns into heat while it loses 20% as exhaust through a flue.
What Are the Standard Furnace Efficiency Ratings?
Efficiency ratings for natural gas furnace systems has significantly increased in recent years. For a long time, the standard gas furnace was rated at 70% AFUE. If you have a furnace that’s over a decade old, then it probably has an efficiency rating of around 80-85%. Modern, high-efficiency furnaces often score in the 90s, with condensing furnaces rating as high as 98% AFUE.
Keep in mind, the higher the efficiency is, the more expensive the gas furnace is to install, but you’ll have lower costs over the lifespan of the system the higher you go with AFUE.
When it comes to electric furnaces, the AFUE range is much simpler—all of them are 100%.
“Oh! So I Should Get an Electric Furnace to Save Money Then, Right?”
Not quite. We understand why you would think that. And installing a new electric furnace is typically cheaper than installing a new gas furnace system.
So, an electric furnace never wastes any energy. That’s a deal that can’t be beat right? But this is only because an electric furnace does not burn fuel, and therefore doesn’t have any energy to exhaust. All the energy used by an electric heater is converted straight to heat energy as electricity runs through the heating elements of the system.
But, electricity is a more expensive fuel source than natural gas. So an electric furnace with an AFUE rating of 100% can be much more expensive to run than a mid-efficiency gas-furnace with an AFUE of 85%. The best way to determine what’s right for your home is to give our pros a call.