Energy Efficiency Ratings: Understanding Them When Selecting a New Furnace Installation

gas-furnace-energuideThere are many factors that go into choosing a new furnace installation including the size of the furnace, the type of furnace, the brand and the length of the warranty, but perhaps the most important factor is the level of energy efficiency the new furnace is able to operate at. Why does energy efficiency matter so much? Simply put, the more energy efficient your furnace is, the cheaper it will be to heat your home. A furnace with a high energy efficiency rating wastes very little of the energy that it consumes, with some models now rated at 98 percent efficient, meaning that 98 percent of the energy that is consumed is turned into heat. Let’s put that into perspective. The lowest efficiency a new furnace installation in Toronto can operate at legally nowadays is 92 percent, meaning every time it is used, 8 percent of the energy is wasted, compared to only 2 percent for the energy efficient furnace we mentioned a moment ago. This might not sound like much, but a 6 percent saving every time you use your furnace can make a big difference to your bill over the course of a year.

How is Energy Efficiency Measured?

As you have already seen, the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency(AFUE) measures how much of the energy that a furnace consumes actually becomes heat. The AFUE takes into account both the gas that the furnace burns and the electric it draws from the mains in order to power many of its key components. These ratings are represented in the form of a percentage, with 100 percent being a furnace that turns all of the energy it consumes into heat and 0 percent a furnace that emits no heat whatsoever from the energy that it uses.

Factors that Can Affect the Benefits of an Energy Efficient Furnace Installation

However, it is not as straightforward as simply purchasing a new furnace installation with a high energy efficiency rating and waiting to receive the benefits. There are a range of factors that can dilute the benefits offered by these units, some of which we are going to discuss now.

  • Duct System – The AFUE rating system does not take into account any heat energy that is lost in the network of heating ducts that run through your property, which can be up to 30 percent in some cases. This energy is lost before it reaches the rooms in your home, meaning your furnace needs to be used for longer periods to compensate. Insulating your ducts as well as caulking any holes and cracked seams can help to reduce this heat loss.
  • Local Climate – An energy efficient furnace installation is a wise investment for any Toronto homeowner due to the harsh winters we experience each year, but in areas where the temperatures are much milder during this period it doesn’t make much financial sense. While they undoubtedly operate with greater efficiency, a model with an AFUE rating of 98 percent will set you back significantly more than a model with a lower rating, and in warmer climates where the heating system isn’t used all that much an energy efficient furnace could take a long time to pay for itself in the form of savings on your annual bill.
  • Home Insulation – Another factor that could render a highly energy efficient furnace installation relatively useless is poor insulation. If you home is not able to retain the heat that the furnace produces, you will still have to have the furnace turned on for longer than you should. In this case, a far wiser investment would be to improve the R-value of your property and stick with your current furnace.
  • Local Energy Rates – The unit price of gas and electricity varies according to where you live in the world and the energy provider that you use. For example, the price paid by a homeowner in Toronto can differ to that paid by someone in Vancouver. If you pay a higher unit rate you obviously won’t save as much money as someone paying a lower unit rate if you both have the exact same high efficiency furnace installation at your home.

If the furnace at your home is an older unit it may not actually have an AFUE rating or you may no longer be able to locate this information. In this case you can carry out some basic checks to approximate its energy efficiency. Does your furnace use a pilot light that is always lit? Does it lack a fan to distribute any heat generated? These furnaces are unlikely to exceed 70 percent efficiency and its rating could be as low as 56 percent. If your furnace installation does have a fan and utilizes an electric ignition, then it will likely carry an AFUE rating in the low 80’s, while units that possess two heat exchangers will typically have an AFUE rating of 90 or more.
AirPlus has been carrying out furnace installations, furnace repair and annual maintenance in Toronto for over 20 years. If you are interested in a new furnace installation, our staff can help you to identify the perfect model for your home and advise you on other ways in which you can boost your home’s energy efficiency.

Contact us at (416) 298-6874 for further furnace installation information.

Comments are closed.