What Makes a New Furnace Energy Efficient
Homeowners know that a new furnace is a major investment. Not only is it a sizable purchase, but it will also be used daily, often for many years. As a result, it's important to choose a furnace that is both durable and energy efficient. There are a few key factors to consider.
1. Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) Rating
Regarding energy efficiency, AFUE is one of the most important factors. The rating measures the percentage of fuel used to heat your home instead of being lost through the flue or other means. It indicates how much of the furnace's fuel is converted into heat, with higher ratings indicating greater efficiency. The higher the AFUE rating, the more efficient the furnace will be.
Shop for a furnace with an AFUE rating of 80% or higher. The minimum AFUE rating for a new furnace is 78 percent, but furnaces with ratings of 80 to 85 percent are considerably more energy efficient, meaning that almost all the fuel is used to heat your home. On the other hand, older furnaces may have an AFUE rating as low as 60%. As you can see, there is a big difference in efficiency between new and old furnaces.
If you're still using an old furnace, upgrading to a newer model could save you significant money on your energy bills. In addition, newer furnaces are much better for the environment since they produce less pollution.
2. Two-Stage Heating
Another way a new furnace can be energy efficient is by having two-stage heating. That means that the furnace has two settings: low and high. This feature allows the furnace to operate at two different levels, depending on the temperature outside. For example, when it's milder outside, the furnace will run at a lower level to save energy. However, the furnace will automatically switch to a higher level when it's colder outside to provide enough heat.
The low setting is used often and uses less energy. The high setting is only used when cold outside and uses more energy. As you can imagine, this can greatly help save energy and money. Furnaces with two-stage heating can be up to 40% more efficient than those without this feature. If your home is in a place with extreme temperatures (hot or cold), two-stage heating is something to consider.
3. Variable-Speed Blower
Another feature that can improve a furnace's energy efficiency is a variable-speed blower. This type of blower doesn't run at a single, constant speed. Instead, it adjusts its speed based on the needs of the home. For example, if the furnace is only used to heat a small area, the blower will run at a lower speed. However, if the furnace is used to heat a large area, the blower will automatically switch to a higher speed.
That can be extremely helpful in saving energy since the blower won't be running at full power all the time. This way, you can save money on your energy bills. In addition, a variable-speed blower can also help improve your home's indoor air quality since it won't be blowing around dust and other particles as much.
Overall, a variable-speed blower is a great way to improve the efficiency of your furnace and save money on your energy bills. If you're shopping for a new furnace, look for one with this feature.
4. The ENERGY STAR Label
You can also tell if a furnace is energy efficient by looking for the ENERGY STAR label. This label means that the furnace meets strict energy efficiency guidelines by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
ENERGY STAR is a government-backed program to help consumers save money and protect the environment by choosing energy-efficient products. When shopping for a new furnace, look for the ENERGY STAR label to ensure you are getting a product that meets strict energy efficiency guidelines.
ENERGY STAR furnaces are typically 15% more efficient than traditional models, saving you hundreds of dollars over the furnace's life. And because they use less energy, ENERGY STAR furnaces also help to reduce your home's carbon footprint. Also, ask your retailer about any rebates or tax credits available for energy-efficient furnaces. By taking these steps, you can be sure you're getting a furnace that will save you money and help protect the environment.
5. A Furnace's Heat Exchanger
A furnace's heat exchanger is one of the most important components regarding energy efficiency. The heat exchanger is responsible for transferring heat from the combustion chamber to the air that is circulated throughout your home. A well-designed heat exchanger will minimize the heat lost during this process, making the furnace more energy efficient.
To be effective, the heat exchanger must withstand high temperatures without cracking or breaking. That is why many new furnaces are equipped with stainless steel heat exchangers. While they may come with a higher up-front cost, they can withstand extreme heat while providing superior heat transfer. As a result, they can help increase the furnace's overall efficiency, which can lead to significant savings over time.
Unfortunately, many furnaces have very thin heat exchangers that are not very durable. As a result, they can develop cracks over time, leading to expensive repairs. Heat exchangers made of stainless steel or another durable material are much more likely to last many years without requiring replacement.
If the heat exchanger is not functioning properly, it can cause several problems. First, your furnace will have to work harder to heat your home, wasting energy and increasing your energy bills. In addition, a faulty heat exchanger can also lead to carbon monoxide leaks. Carbon monoxide gas is poisonous and can be extremely dangerous if it builds up in your home.
6. Selecting the Right Size
Selecting the right size furnace is critical for both efficiency and comfort. If a furnace is too small, it will have to work harder to heat your home, increasing energy usage, and high utility bills. Conversely, a furnace that is too large will cycle on and off more frequently, causing unnecessary wear and tear.
Installing a too large or small furnace can lead to inefficient operation and increased energy costs. A qualified HVAC contractor can perform a load calculation to help you select the right size. You can enjoy improved comfort and lower energy bills by making sure your furnace is the right size.
7. Sealed Combustion Chambers
Older furnaces have an open combustion chamber, which draws air from inside your home to support burning natural gas or propane. That can lead to safety concerns and decreased energy efficiency.
Newer furnaces feature sealed combustion chambers that pull air from outside your home, eliminating concerns about indoor air quality and allowing the furnace to operate more efficiently. That means the combustion process occurs in a chamber that is sealed off from the rest of the furnace. It helps to improve the furnace's efficiency because all the heat is used to heat up the air circulating through the ductwork. As a result, less heat is escaping through the flue and chimney.
Newer furnaces also have better insulation, meaning fewer heat escapes from the furnace and goes into your ductwork and out of your home. You want your furnace to be well insulated to save money on your heating bill.
8. The Quality of the Installation
Even the best furnace will not operate properly if it is not installed correctly. As such, it's essential to ensure that your furnace is installed by a qualified professional. A qualified technician will have the experience and knowledge necessary to install your furnace correctly, ensuring that it operates safely and efficiently. Proper installation is essential for optimal performance, so hire a qualified professional.
When installing a new furnace, be sure to ask about the quality of the installation. Find out if the technicians are certified and ask about their experience. In addition, ask to see pictures of previous installations to get an idea of their artistry. By taking the time to find a qualified installer, you can be confident that your furnace will be installed properly, providing years of safe and efficient operation.
Now that you know more about what makes new furnace energy efficient, you can make a more informed decision when it's time to purchase a new one. Research and ask plenty of questions to help you find the best possible option for your home. With a little effort, you will surely find a furnace that will save you money on your energy bill and keep your home comfortable all winter.