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Buying A Boiler: Use AFUE To Determine Heating Efficiency

When it comes to boilers, size matters. But don't look for the biggest boiler. Look for the biggest number: that is, look for the AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating that tells you just how efficient the boiler in question is.

AFUE is a rating system that the Federal Trade Commission developed to help consumers compare furnaces and boilers, and essentially is the different between the amount of heat that the boiler puts out compared to the amount of energy it consumes.

For example, say a boiler has an AFUE number of 85 percent. That means that 85 percent of the energy that it uses becomes heat, while the other 15 percent is lost, likely up the chimney or through leaks. However, bear in mind that an AFUE rating doesn't account for all heat loss, such as inefficient ductwork or pipes.

What AFUE Rating Should You Look For?

The government has set minimum AFUE numbers for various types of boilers and furnaces, so consumers are protected from shelling out money for appliances that ultimately are not energy efficient or cost effective. The minimum allowed AFUE rating for a non-condensing fossil-fueled, warm-air furnace is 78 percent, while a fossil-fueled boiler must have a rating of at least 80 percent. A gas-fueled steam boiler must have a rating of at least 75 percent.

AFUE numbers for older systems are significantly lower; in the range of 56 to 70 percent. But the new models can have AFUE numbers in the high 90s, and upgrading your system often can cut as much as 50 percent off your energy bill.

For more information, or for help selecting the right boiler for your needs, contact the professionals at Joe Behr Plumbing and Heating, Inc. We have been proudly serving residential customers in mid-Ohio since 1965, and can answer all of your heating, cooling and plumbing questions.  

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

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

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