In recent years, Americans have become more concerned with energy efficiency due to reduced resources, rising costs, and environmental safety. Yet, in some 35 million U.S. homes, approximately 30 percent of home energy costs are wasted on heat that escapes the home, and adds carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. All of these problems can be addressed with one simple solution: a high-efficiency furnace.
A furnace’s efficiency is determined by its Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating. The AFUE rating represents the amount of energy the furnace converts into useful heat in the home. For example, an AFUE rating of 78 percent means that 78 percent of your heat energy is being utilized indoors, while 22 percent is being lost into the atmosphere. Thanks to the Federal Trade Commission, all furnaces now come with an AFUE rating, allowing consumers to better understand and compare options.
While today’s models can achieve up to 97 percent efficiency, often cutting bills and gas emissions in half, the AFUE rating of older systems ranged anywhere from 56 to 70 percent. If you were to upgrade from 56 to 90 percent efficiency, you’d not only be making better use of 34 percent of your energy, you’d be eliminating anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide pollution from the air annually, all while saving money on home utility expenses.
While the U.S. Department of Energy requires new furnaces to convert 78 percent of burned fuel into heat, it only considers units with an AFUE rating of 90 percent or more to be high-efficiency. Higher-efficiency systems can cost more than mid-range models, but in colder climates such as that of the Northwest, they save money long-term. In addition, high-efficiency furnaces can qualify for up to $350 in Oregon State Tax Credit, up to $1,500 in Federal Energy Tax Credit, and $100 back from the Energy Trust of Oregon.
While personal budget and AFUE ratings may figure heavily into choosing the right furnace for your home, it takes a trained professional to properly address your energy needs.