How Is Furnace Efficiency Determined in Hephzibah, GA?

If the furnace in your Hephzibah, GA, home is nearing the end of its useful life, it’ll soon need replacement. As you shop, you’ll want to buy the most efficient furnace your budget allows to maximize the opportunity. Here’s what you need to know to choose the most efficient furnace for your home.

What Makes a Furnace Efficient?

Years ago, residential furnaces weren’t very efficient. Before 1987, it wasn’t uncommon for a home to have a furnace that wasted 50% or more of its fuel. However, new regulations from the Department of Energy changed that.

From then on, furnace manufacturers had to redesign their products to be more efficient. They leveraged newer, lighter materials that wasted less heat. And they moved toward electronic ignition systems that don’t require an always-on pilot light.

Those changes helped the manufacturers meet the new efficiency standard of an annualized fuel efficiency (AFUE) ratio of 78 or higher. And from then on, all new furnaces received AFUE ratings to help consumers make informed buying decisions. Then the standard went up again in 2015 to 80 for gas furnaces and 84 for oil furnaces.

The problem was that not every homeowner knew what an AFUE ratio is or what it means. Without that information, it’s still hard for the average homeowner to know what they’re buying. You don’t have to remain in the dark, though.

Understanding AFUE Ratios

The good news is that AFUE ratios are among the easiest efficiency standards to understand. That’s because they tell you precisely how much of a furnace’s fuel becomes usable heat. That means they also tell you how much fuel a furnace will waste.

For example, a furnace with an AFUE ratio of 80 will turn 80% of the fuel you give it into heat. The other 20% gets lost through inefficient internal heat transfer and chimney losses. Fortunately, it’s possible to find furnaces for sale with AFUE ratios substantially higher than 80 today.

In fact, some manufacturers of new gas-powered furnaces have models on the market with AFUE ratios as high as 98.7. Also, you can consider any furnace you see for sale with an AFUE of 90 or over a high-efficiency furnace. That knowledge should make your furnace shopping experience a bit easier.

High-efficiency Furnace Features

You can also judge a new furnace’s efficiency by its features. To achieve high AFUE ratios, new furnaces tend to share a variety of design features. Those features include:

  • Variable-speed blower fans
  • Sealed combustion chambers
  • Dual heat exchangers
  • Flue-gas heat capture

It’s safe to assume that any furnace with the above features is a high-efficiency furnace. And you can expect it to lower your operating costs compared to your existing furnace. That’s especially true if your furnace is over 15 years old since some of these high-efficiency features didn’t yet exist.

Comparing a New Furnace to Your Existing One

If you’re lucky and your home’s furnace is new enough, it may still have its AFUE ratio listed on it. That will make direct comparisons to a new furnace you’re considering easy. If not, however, you can make some useful assumptions.

The first assumption is that if your furnace is less than seven years old, it must have an AFUE ratio of at least 80. That was the minimum efficiency standard that went into effect in 2015. It’s also the average AFUE of residential furnaces operating today.

However, if your furnace is over seven years old but under 35, it must have an AFUE of at least 78. That takes you back to when the initial efficiency standards went into effect in 1987. If your furnace is somehow older than that, you should expect it to have an AFUE between 56 and 70.

Consult a Heating Expert

Now that you know what AFUE ratios are, you’ll need an HVAC company you can trust to replace your furnace. For homeowners in the Hephzibah, GA, area, Doc Savage Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. is it. So, contact Doc Savage Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. today, and we’ll handle your furnace installation without delay!

Image provided by iStock

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