Does a High-Efficiency Furnace Save Money and Energy?
If a new high-efficiency furnace is top of the list of purchases for your home for the New Year, you’re probably thinking mainly about the years of cozy warmth you’ll get from it.
A new furnace certainly can help you sleep a lot easier – no breakdowns, no calling out the plumber on those cold mornings without hot water or heating.
But there are other benefits to high-efficiency furnaces too. They help both your bank balance and the environment.
What is a high-efficiency furnace?
Energy efficiency is now one of the most important factors that Calgary homeowners consider when choosing a furnace.
With all the work it does to provide heating, the furnace is the single biggest energy guzzler in most homes. Energy costs are not about to come down any time soon, so switching to a more energy-efficient model of furnace can make a big difference to the bills.
A high-efficiency furnace will have an energy rating of 90-98 percent. This is a measure of how efficient the unit is at converting fuel into heat.
The higher the energy rating, the less fuel is wasted during the heating process, which is better for your pocket and better for the environment.
How does a high-efficiency furnace save money?
The purpose of any furnace is to heat air and move it through the home. In Calgary, furnaces use natural gas or propane as fuel to do that.
A high-efficiency furnace saves money because of two major developments in furnace technology:
They have two heat exchangers instead of one, so the condensed gas is converted into heat instead of being expelled through the exhaust as in older models.
They use sealed combustion, where an air-intake pipe brings the air required for combustion from outside rather than using open combustion, where warm air from inside the home is heated (like with older models).
What energy efficiency do you need for your home?
If we fit a 95 percent efficient furnace in your home, that means it provides 95 percent annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE).
Of every one dollar spent, 95 cents is used directly to heat your home.
Older furnaces simply can’t match this level of efficiency as they use outdated technology. A standard-efficiency furnace is around 80 percent efficient, wasting around 20 cents in every dollar: this is expelled as exhaust gas.
If you want the maximum efficiency for your home, look for an energy rating of 95 to 98.
How efficient is my existing furnace?
The efficiency of a furnace is typically included on the sticker on the faceplate.
If this is missing, search for your manufacturer and model number online and check what the energy efficiency rating (AFUE) is.
Bear in mind that the installation location is important with your furnace. If you are replacing an existing furnace that sits in a crawl space or vented attic, the installation costs of a high-efficiency furnace may be higher because of the need to create a pathway for combustion air to enter the unit.
On the other hand, if you’re installing a new furnace in a sealed area, you don’t need to worry about noxious gases escaping because of the sealed combustion system in a 95-percent unit – unlike with an 80-percent unit.
After an inspection of your home, a heating expert should be able to advise you on the best choice of furnace based on its location and your energy goals.
Is a high-efficiency furnace worth the extra money?
With any new furnace, of course, there is a significant upfront cost for a homeowner.
However, payment plans with generous terms are offered and this can “lower the bar of entry” if you don’t have the savings available immediately.
If you consider purchasing an energy-efficient furnace as an investment for many years, it starts to make good sense because it will save you money every month for years AND remove the stress of potential breakdowns and the expense of regular repairs.
How soon will you start to save money?
If your home has been heated by the same inefficient furnace for the past 20 or 30 years, as soon as you install a high-efficiency furnace as a replacement, it uses less energy to do its job.
That means you should notice the difference from the very first gas bill you receive after installation.
How long does it take for a new high-efficiency furnace to pay for itself?
This is the million-dollar question.
It is difficult to generalize because no two homes use energy the same way or deploy their heating systems in the same way throughout the year.
Most of our customers say that their new furnace pays for itself in reduced energy bills within three to five years of installation. The big caveat of course is that it depends on your energy consumption and the model you choose.
After it’s paid for itself, your furnace should still have many years of good performance remaining.
Any other benefits?
As well as the money and energy-saving benefits of a high-efficiency furnace, many homeowners prefer their compact nature.
These furnaces generally use less space than older furnaces, meaning that they can fit into tighter spaces – and you don’t have to worry about gases escaping into the home like with an older furnace.
The generous warranties provided with such units lead to extra peace of mind and confidence that your furnace will last for years to come (generally around 20 years), paying you back every month.
Looking at a new high-efficiency furnace for your Calgary home?
If you are convinced that a high-efficiency heating system is the way to go for your home, speak to one of our licensed and certified heating professionals at Pete the Plumber.