Is It Time To Upgrade To A High-Efficiency Heating System? Do The Math

If your heating bills the last few winters have left you a little hot under the collar, it may be time to upgrade to a high-efficiency furnace or boiler.

Furnace and boiler design has improved considerably in recent years largely because homeowners are placing more of a premium on energy efficiency as gas and oil prices continue to increase. Whereas the furnaces and boilers of the past often wasted as much as 40 percent of the heat they produced, some new systems approach 100 percent efficiency.

The percent efficiency of a furnace or boiler is reported by AFUE, or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. If you know your current system's AFUE rating, and how much you spend on heating fuel, you can calculate how much fuel you are wasting by multiplying the two. You then can determine whether it's economically smart for you to upgrade to a newer, more energy-efficient furnace or boiler. 

Here's an example of the calculation if you have a 70 percent AFUE furnace, and you are spending $1,000 each winter on gas. By multiplying 0.70 by $1,000, you calculate that you are utilizing only $700, and the other $300 is being wasted. However, if you had been using a 98 percent AFUE furnace , the 2 percent waste would have amounted to only about $20. Therefore, in this hypothetical example, your total heating bill would have been around $720, instead of $1,000. 

There are other benefits that you will experience if you choose a high-efficiency furnace:

  • If you increase your efficiency by 28 percent, you likely also would have a new furnace that is significantly smaller than your old one. But, you'd still be producing the same amount of heat.
  • You would earn a federal tax credit for 2011, because the new furnace exceeded 95 percent AFUE. 
  • You would be more environmentally conscious because your heating system would be burning 28 percent less fuel, and producing 28 percent less carbon dioxide.

At Joe Behr Plumbing and Heating in Lexington, we can help you determine the best furnace or boiler for your Mid-Ohio home, and do the math to see which option makes the most financial sense. Contact us today if you have any questions.

Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about high-efficiency heating systems and other HVAC topics, visit our website.

Joe Behr Plumbing and Heating, Inc. services the Mid-Ohio area. 

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