Efficiency is arguably the most important aspect of a heating system. While in general you want to have a fairly efficient furnace, how efficient is enough?
Lower efficiency furnaces cost less when bought, but over time they cost more to operate because they waste more fuel. As a homeowner, you want to determine what the optimal efficiency is to give you the lowest lifetime cost and still fit into your original purchase budget.
The AFUE Rating
All furnaces have an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating. This efficiency rating makes it easier to compare multiple models to see which one makes better use of its fuel.
A standard heating system will usually have an efficiency of around 80 percent, but high efficiency units, which are mostly condensing furnaces, can achieve an efficiency of almost 100 percent.
Efficiency and Cost Variables
When determining how important a more efficient furnace is for your home, you should consider the following three variables:
Local utility costs: The more expensive your utilities are, the more you need to make the most of the fuel that you do use. A highly efficient system means you will need less fuel to produce the same amount of heat as a less efficient system.
Usage: In cold climates like Calgary you need to run your furnace for a substantial portion of the year. Since you use it a lot you will typically benefit significantly from furnaces that have a higher efficiency.
Home insulation: If your home is insulated sufficiently you won’t lose much heat, which means you need to run your furnace less than if you have air leaks, which would favor a lower efficiency furnace. If your home is not well-insulated you can attempt to seal your home better.
Understanding these variables will give you a general sense of the efficiency you are looking for, but only an HVAC contractor will be able to give you accurate estimates to choose from.
To get help from an HVAC professional in Calgary, please contact Arpi’s Industries Ltd. We’ve been serving Calgary for over 50 years.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Calgary, Alberta about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about furnaces and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of Shutterstock