The efficiency rating of your furnace lets you know how well your unit converts fuel into thermal energy used to heat your home. Furnaces with higher AFUE ratings are more efficient than those with lower ratings, so looking for a new furnace with a rating of 80 or higher is recommended. But what does the AFUE rating really mean? Here's what you need to know about AFUE ratings.
What is an AFUE rating?
AFUE means "Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency." This number represents the percentage of thermal energy produced by the furnace that is actually used for heating your home. For example, a furnace with a rating of 80 means 80 percent of the thermal energy produced is used to heat your home while the other 20 percent is lost up the chimney or during the heating process.
Why does the AFUE rating matter?
A furnace with a higher AFUE rating is more efficient and produces more heat from the same amount of fuel, saving you dollars on your heating bill. Furnaces with low ratings allow heat to escape up the chimney wasting both energy and your hard-earned cash. In addition to shaving dollars off your utility bills, a more efficient furnace will cut down on carbon emissions, too, reducing air pollution and helping you do your part to save the environment.
What is a good AFUE rating?
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the AFUE rating for older, low-efficiency furnaces typically ranges from 56 to 70 percent, mid-range furnaces fall in the range of 80 to 83 percent, while new, high-efficiency furnaces have an AFUE of 90 to 98.5 percent. If you are shopping for a new furnace, look for one with at least 80 percent efficiency. While more efficient units may be more expensive, bear in mind that purchasing a furnace with a higher AFUE rating will save you money in the long run. If you live in a mild climate, the difference between 85 percent and 95 percent may not be great, but if you live in a cold climate, this percentage can amount to considerable savings over the heating season. Talk to your local heating professional to determine if an upgrade to a more efficient model is the best choice for you.
The AFUE rating calculates the efficiency of the furnace, but does not take into account any leaks you may have in your ductwork, says the U.S. Department of Energy. Heat loss from ductwork or piping in unheated areas, like attics, basements and crawl spaces, can account for 35 percent of your furnace's energy output. Keeping your ductwork in good repair, and insulating unheated areas where ductwork and pipes travel, will help your furnace pump heat into your home instead of being lost to unused areas.
If you need help deciding on an energy-efficient system for your home, contact us today. Our professionals at Action Heating & Air Inc. can help you choose a furnace and make sure your ductwork is up-to-date, too.