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AFUEIf you are considering buying a new furnace, the first step is to understand your options. If you’ve done any shopping or product comparisons, you have probably noticed that different furnace options have different AFUE ratings.

AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. This rating is basically a measure of how efficiently a furnace operates. Since efficiency affects your home’s impact on the environment as well as its impact on your bank account, it is important to understand the AFUE rating of any furnace you consider purchasing.

How to Determine the AFUE Rating

All new furnaces are required by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to display their official AFUE rating. You should easily find this rating on the side of your furnace.

The AFUE rating is a ratio that represents the amount of heat produced by the furnace compared to how much fossil fuel energy it consumes. If you like math, there is a simple equation to compute this ratio:

AFUE = (Total heat output) / (Total energy consumed)

If you plug in the proper numbers and do the math, you will end up with a percentage. If your furnace has an AFUE of 90 percent, this means the furnace uses 90 percent of the fuel it consumes is converted into usable heat for your home. The other ten percent escapes through exhaust or up the chimney.

Obviously, the higher the AFUE rating, the more energy efficient the furnace will be. Any furnace with an efficiency rating of 90% or higher is considered high-efficiency.

Replacing Your Furnace

If you currently have an older furnace in your home, it probably has an efficiency rating that falls somewhere between 56 and 70 percent. This means a large portion of the fuel used to heat your home is being wasted. It’s like throwing money out the window.

Modern heating systems can reach efficiencies of up to 98.5 percent, converting nearly all the energy consumed into actually heating your home.

Upgrading your old, inefficient furnace and replacing it with a high-efficiency heating system could potentially cut your fuel bills (and your carbon footprint) in half.

Consider the Type of Fuel

When shopping for a new furnace for your home it important to make sure you are comparing apples to apples. When comparing energy costs, AFUE rating should only be directly compared to systems that use the same type of fuel.

AFUE rating can vary greatly between models. However, most furnaces that use electricity as their main fuel source generally have an AFUE rating above 95 percent. However, this doesn’t automatically indicate that specific electric furnace will produce lower energy costs. While the electric furnace may use most of the energy it consumes to heat the inside of your home, in some areas, electricity costs more than natural gas. In this case, a furnace with a lower AFUE rating that runs on natural gas could save you more money than an electric furnace with a higher rating.

Before You Replace Your Furnace

Before you purchase a new furnace, you should first improve the energy efficiency of your home. Consider upgrading insulation and sealing leaks around windows, foundations, and doors. This will help keep the heat produced by your furnace from leaking out.

Improving the energy efficiency of your home could make it easier for a smaller unit to heat your home. This could save you money.

A furnace that is properly sized for your home’s needs will run most efficiently. Make sure you choose a dependable unit with a good warranty. If you are in the market for a furnace upgrade, get in touch with your local HVAC professionals. They will help you make an informed decision and help you find the right model for your needs.