Shopping for a new furnace, you may have run into some strange acronyms and abbreviations. HVAC, HDD, BTU and AFUE get tossed around in brochures and in conversations with heating and cooling professionals. When searching for the right furnace for your home, however, Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency—AFUE—is the word for you, and selecting a furnace with the right AFUE will save you time and money for the life of the heating and cooling equipment.
Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) is a complicated way to describe a financially simple concept. For the fuel you purchase, how much is used to generate heat for you and your family? Whether you use an oil-fired, natural gas or liquid propane-fired furnace, fossil fuel goes in and converts to heat energy. The higher the AFUE, the more efficiently this energy transfer takes place.
Old furnaces could get by on 60 percent AFUE, but no more. Federal standards are in place to help the consumer save money on fuel for heating and cooling, use fewer fossil fuels, and produce less greenhouse gas to keep your family warm.
DOE and EPA
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) use AFUE to provide consumers with ratings for furnaces and boilers. The most efficient heating and cooling equipment earns the federal Energy Star label, and helps you select suitable equipment for your region of the country. It makes no economic sense to buy a furnace with 95 percent AFUE if you live in the sunny south, because you will never recover the cost of the equipment through energy savings.
Right for You
To earn the Energy Star certification:
- gas furnaces in the south must show a 90 percent AFUE
- northern states must earn a 95 percent AFUE
- oil-fired furnaces must earn an 85 percent AFUE
Energy Star standards are higher than acceptable minimums, however. You can still buy equipment through November 2015 that has an AFUE of 80 percent (though you will pay more to run the furnace over its life).
Only you can balance immediate cash outlay with long-term costs. If you know you are replacing a furnace and plan to stay in your home for another 20 years, buy the highest AFUE furnace you can afford. If you must replace a furnace in order to sell your home and move on, you may be just fine with 80 percent AFUE.
If you need help purchasing your next furnace, contact the experts at Gold Star Services!