If you’re even considering installing a new furnace in the next few years, especially if your furnace is more than ten years old, now is the time to act; the United States Department of Energy’s new high-efficiency requirements for furnaces take effect May 1, 2013. Waiting to install your new furnace may cost you hundreds of dollars in upgraded equipment and installation costs.
The current efficiency standard for most furnaces is set at 78 percent AFUE. AFUE (pronounced A-Few) stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency; it measures the amount of fuel that you supply to your furnace against the amount of heat that is actually delivered into your home. For example, an 80% AFUE furnace converts 80% of the fuel it receives into heat, and the other 20% goes out the furnace chimney. Standards for other types of heating equipment are as follows:
- 75% for gas steam boilers
- 80% for all other boilers
- 75% for mobile home furnaces
The new standard sets the minimum efficiency for all non-weatherized furnaces (furnaces that are installed inside a building rather than outside) installed after May 1, 2013 at 90%, which means that after May 1, you won't have the option of an 80% furnace. This only applies to states in the “Northern region” as defined by the Department of Energy, so if you have friends living down South who have never heard of this law, that’s because it doesn’t affect them until new air conditioner standards take effect in 2015.
It is perfectly logical to want the highest efficiency furnace possible, both to save on heating costs and to help protect the environment, but sometimes the difference in cost between a mid-efficiency furnace (80-89% AFUE) and a high-efficiency furnace (90% AFUE and above) can make the decision for you. A high-efficiency furnace will pay for itself in fuel cost savings over time, so that is also a factor in the decision-making process. However, a mid-efficiency furnace may make more sense for your budget and household.
Another factor to consider is that high-efficiency furnaces may have different installation needs than mid-efficiency furnaces. If any current ventilation, plumbing, or ductwork must be retrofitted to accommodate the new furnace, that will run up the charges significantly.
The best way to see what your needs and options are is to contact us for a free estimate to determine if acting now to install a mid-efficiency furnace is right for you. Of course, you may find that installing a high-efficiency furnace is the way to go as well.