The Complete Guide to High Efficiency Furnaces

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Lower energy bills. Reducing your carbon footprint. Convenience. You might want to install a high efficiency furnace for a number of reasons. Regardless of why you want (or need) to replace your heating system, we want to help you cover the who, what, when, where, and how of upgrading.

What Does High Efficiency Mean?

Furnaces are graded on their Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (or AFUE) rating. Modern gas furnaces are all high efficiency requiring a minimum AFUE rating of 90 percent, meaning they convert about 90 percent of fuel into the energy that heats your home.

Some high efficiency gas furnaces have AFUE ratings reaching as high as 98.5 percent. The higher the efficiency, the less energy your furnace needs to heat your home.  

When Do you Need a New Furnace?

A furnace installed before 2010 (when the standard in Canada changed to 90% or over) could have an AFUE rating of 80 percent or less. This could mean about 30 percent of your energy is being wasted. A functioning furnace might not be functioning efficiently. Lower AFUE and inefficiencies related to the age of the equipment result in utility overpayments.

When Should You Repair?

You might be able to repair a poorly performing furnace by taking the following steps:

  • Check for clogged air filters – this is the number one issue we see that homeowners can take care of themselves. A dirty filter can wreak havoc on your furnace and air conditioner.
  • Check for a malfunctioning thermostat (look for loose wires, or change the batteries)
  • Check for burnt out fuses or tripped circuit breakers – either could mean that power to the fan or circuit board has been cut.

Failing that, consult a heating and cooling professional. If you find that any key components have failed, then a replacement might be more economical than a repair.   

How Will a High Efficiency Furnace Save You Money?

A high efficiency furnace stretches your energy dollars by converting a higher percentage of fuel into heat. However, you will have to pay up front for those monthly savings.

To calculate the true value of a high efficiency furnace you will have to plot the up-front cost against monthly savings. A quality, well maintained furnace, will last about 12-15 years.

furnace repair

What Size Furnace Does Your Home Need? 

The best way to accurately answer this question is to book a consultation with a professional. The answer depends not only on your home’s size, but other factors like age, insulation, the number and size of windows and doors.

Precision is important here.

An undersized furnace will struggle to meet the desired temperature, become overworked, fail prematurely, and need to be replaced. But, contrary to popular belief oversized furnaces are just as problematic.

An oversized furnace will satisfy the temperature setting quickly and will not run a full cycle but rather, will short-cycle (short on/off cycles). This leads to warm and cold spots in your home not to mention additional wear and tear on the furnace itself. Oversized furnaces also risk overheating. Efficiency is the key to a comfortable home and to energy savings, not power. And, maximum efficiency depends on the proper sizing of the equipment.

How Do You Determine the Furnace Size for Your Home?

The industry standard for measuring the heating efficiency of a furnace is the BTU (British Thermal Unit) and you can find an explanation of it here. A high efficiency furnace with a 90 percent AFUE that is rated at 100,000 BTU will provide 90,000 BTU of heating energy to your home.  

Competent heating & air conditioning contractors will conduct a heat loss/heat gain calculation
to assure the proper sizing of the furnaces and central air conditioners they sell. It will use your home’s construction, insulation, windows, orientation of the home in relation to the sunlight it receives, room size, and several other factors to determine the best size of furnace.

Where Can You Go to Save More?

As we mentioned above, a high efficiency furnace leads to lower energy bills each month, and considerable savings over the years. You can also find rebates & specials that reward you with even more savings

What’s the Next Step?

If you’d like to learn more about how high efficiency furnaces can save you money, then look for the ClimateCare  location nearest you. Our heating and cooling professionals can help you determine your home’s heating needs.