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What AFUE Rating Is Best for My Furnace?


Did you know that California has new furnace requirements when it comes to minimum efficiency? If you have an existing unit, it’s OK. But when it comes time to invest in a new furnace, your options will all be higher efficiency, meaning that they use less energy than previous furnace models. 

The new California furnace requirements are a minimum efficiency rating of 78%. Anything above this threshold is considered good, but keep in mind that for your furnace to be ENERGY STAR certified it must have an AFUE rating of at least 85-90%. Why is this important for you as a California resident? Well, California energy costs tend to be higher than the national average. Keep reading to learn more about AFUE ratings are so important when choosing a new furnace. 

What AFUE Ratings Mean

The acronym AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. The measurement is used to calculate how efficiently your furnace converts fuel into direct heat energy. Keep in mind that this rating is only used for gas furnaces because electric furnaces are 100% efficient at transferring electricity into heat. 

So, with California’s new AFUE rating standard a gas furnace must transfer 78% of its fuel into heat. The remaining 22% of fuel gets used during the combustion process of creating heat. In order for your furnace to have an ENERGY STAR rating, it cannot lose more than 15% of the fuel to the combustion process. 

Having just 10% more efficiency can make a huge difference in your energy efficiency. If your furnace can turn more of its fuel source into heat, that means it has to use less fuel overall to heat your home. This may not seem like a lot, but it can add up over the life of your furnace. 

Understanding the Cost Difference for High-Efficiency Furnaces 

The average furnace cost is around $4,000, although furnaces range in price from $2,500 to $7,000. You will end up spending more upfront on an energy-efficient furnace. Less efficient models cost less for installation but will cost you more over the life of your unit. 

For example, you spend $150 per month on fuel for heating and cooling your home. If your furnace is 10% more efficient, you save around $15 per month or $180 per year. Not much until you consider those savings over a 15-year period – $2,700. 

Before you make a decision about a new furnace, understand the AFUE rating and consider the difference in upfront costs vs. your savings over time. You can further boost your furnace’s efficiency by scheduling a ductwork inspection. Small cracks and holes can allow heat to escape and never reach your home’s interior. Even if you have a very efficient furnace, you can still lose heat and increase your energy use as your furnace works harder to keep your home warm. 

Contact RKM Heating and Air Conditioning today to schedule an appointment for a new furnace or ductwork inspection. Done Right, Priced Right.

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