As you shop around for your next furnace, chances are you're thinking about the comfort and convenience features it should have. That's a good thing, but it's all too easy to forget about how energy efficient it should be. This is where the annual fuel utilization efficiency rating - or AFUE, for short - comes in handy.
The following explains how AFUE works and what you can expect as you use AFUE ratings to select your home's next furnace.
How It Affects Your Purchase
Upon quick glance, AFUE offers a convenient snapshot of the performance and energy efficiency you can expect out of your new furnace. AFUE ratings are usually gained by looking at a furnace's heat output in relation to the total amount of fuel it uses. A furnace with an AFUE of 90 percent, for instance, is capable of converting 90 percent of its used fuel into usable heat energy.
The higher the AFUE rating, the more efficient the furnace will be. Most condensing furnaces offer an AFUE of 95 percent or higher due to their efficient fuel usage, while some electric furnaces offer a 100-percent AFUE due to their design.
Keep in mind that AFUE ratings don't account for heat losses through the duct system or chimney. Such heat losses could add up to 35 percent or more of your furnace's energy output, so it pays to have an efficient ductwork design and exhaust controls.
What You Should Look For
When looking for a new furnace, it's usually a good idea to find one that meets or exceeds the minimum AFUE rating mandated by the Department of Energy. These basic minimums tend to vary depending on the type of furnace and the region it'll be sold and used in. For instance, gas-fired furnaces sold in the Southeast U.S. must meet a minimum AFUE of 90 percent, whereas a furnace sold in the Northern U.S. must have a 95 percent minimum AFUE.
You don't have to worry about your furnace's AFUE rating being hidden away in some far-flung corner or not being shown at all. Every furnace currently sold in the United States is not only required to have a AFUE rating, but that rating must be displayed on the bright yellow EnergyGuide label found on all new furnaces. You can find your furnace's AFUE rating within the "Efficiency Rating" box on the lower half of the label. For more information, contact companies like Always Ready Repair.