Is a High Efficiency Furnace Worth It?
In the realm of home comfort and energy efficiency, the choice of a heating system can have a significant impact on both your pocketbook and your overall well-being. A key player in this domain is the humble furnace, a staple of many households. However, not all furnaces are created equal, and the question on many homeowners’ minds is this: Is a high efficiency furnace worth it? In this blog, Atlas Heating & Air Conditioning explains what constitutes high efficiency and how these new furnace systems can enhance your comfort while saving you money.
What Is Considered High Efficiency?
The term “high efficiency” isn’t arbitrary; it has a concrete definition in the heating industry. A furnace is deemed high efficiency when it achieves an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating of 90% or higher. The AFUE rating measures furnace efficiency and reflects the percentage of fuel a furnace converts into useful heating energy during a heating season.
Conventional electric furnaces, oil furnaces, and propane or natural gas furnaces, on the other hand, often fall into the 80% AFUE range, meaning they lose a significant portion of the fuel’s energy potential. High efficiency furnaces are designed to maximize energy conversion, making them a compelling choice for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint and save money on heating costs.
Heating equipment efficiency is a crucial factor because it directly impacts your energy bills. A higher efficiency gas furnace or other energy efficient models will waste less energy versus a less efficient model, resulting in lower energy costs. This is why many homeowners are eager to explore the benefits of high efficiency furnaces when considering furnace installation.
Energy Efficient Features That Enhance Comfort
Now that we’ve defined high efficiency, let’s explore the features that set these energy efficient furnaces apart and explain how they enhance comfort:
Two-Stage or Modulating Burners
A high efficiency gas furnace often comes equipped with two-stage or modulating burners. A standard single-stage furnace always runs at full capacity until the desired temperature is reached, potentially leading to noticeable temperature fluctuations. A two-stage furnace has burners that offer two heating levels: a lower and a higher stage, providing a more stable indoor temperature and better efficiency.
A modulating furnace takes precision to the next level and continually adjusts its heat output to produce more or less heat. They do so to match the exact heating demand, maximizing comfort and minimizing energy wastage. While modulating gas furnace burners come with higher initial costs over two-stage and standard models, their long-term utility bill savings and superior heating performance often justify the investment in a high efficiency gas furnace for homeowners.
A variable-speed blower in a heating and cooling system is a key component that operates by adjusting its fan speed to match the specific heating demands of your home. Unlike older furnaces with single-speed blowers that run at a constant rate, a variable-speed fan and blower can slow down or speed up, distributing air more precisely and efficiently to keep your whole house comfortable.
This dynamic control results in less noise and more consistent heating and contributes significantly to energy efficiency. By running at a lower speed when less heating is needed, variable-speed blowers consume less electricity, reducing energy consumption and lowering utility bills.
Additionally, the even and gentle airflow they provide helps eliminate cold spots, enhances indoor air quality by filtering and circulating air more effectively, and maintains a more comfortable and balanced temperature throughout your home. This makes variable-speed blowers a valuable addition to any furnace, offering both increased energy efficiency and enhanced overall home comfort.
A furnace’s heat exchanger is pivotal in the heating process, transferring heat from fuel combustion to the circulating air in your home. In traditional furnaces, the primary heat exchanger accomplishes this by passing combustion gasses through metal tubes, heating the air as it flows over these surfaces. A condensing furnace can offer higher efficiencies as it has a secondary heat exchanger made of advanced materials like stainless steel.
The addition of a secondary heat exchanger in high efficiency gas furnaces and oil furnaces is a technological leap that minimizes energy wastage while maximizing heat utilization. This secondary heat exchanger captures additional heat from the combustion process of the condensing furnace, using condensing technology to extract heating energy from the previously wasted combustion gasses.
This not only leads to cost savings but also enhances home comfort. The process helps improve indoor air quality by removing moisture and combustion byproducts from the exhaust gasses, enhancing both comfort and safety in your home.
High efficiency furnaces typically have advanced technology like sealed combustion systems, which draw outdoor air for combustion rather than using indoor air like standard models. A sealed system optimizes combustion efficiency in an oil or natural gas furnace because it ensures a consistent supply of oxygen to the burner, resulting in more complete fuel combustion. This efficient furnace design means less fuel waste, lower heating costs, and a reduced environmental footprint.
Sealed combustion prevents the furnace from using conditioned indoor air for combustion. This eliminates the possibility of drafts, prevents the introduction of potentially harmful combustion byproducts into your living space, and maintains a more consistent indoor temperature.
The Bottom Line: High Efficiency Furnaces Are Worth It
High efficiency gas furnaces and oil furnaces are undoubtedly worth considering for your home. They provide many benefits, from lower heating bills and reduced environmental impact to enhanced comfort and convenience. The initial cost of a high efficiency furnace may be higher than that of a standard model, but the long-term savings and improved comfort make it a sound and cost-effective choice for those looking to upgrade their heating system.
If you’re interested in reaping the rewards of a high efficiency furnace, contact Atlas Heating & Air Conditioning. Our experts can help you select and install the perfect high efficiency furnace tailored to your home’s specific needs.