You need a good heater to ward away the cold days of the year. But this necessary appliance can use up vast amounts of energy, particularly in the winter. A furnace that saves energy will go easier on your pocket. But how can you tell if what you have is energy efficient? Comfort Systems of Wichita, KS offers these three ways of telling.

Checking the Bills

The best and most convenient way to find out if your heater is maintaining its efficiency is to compare bills from now to the same times in the last year. If you look at bills for different seasons, you should be able to tell if energy use remains the same despite the weather changes.

If you no longer have copies of last year’s bills, you can also call your utility company and ask them to send you copies but this may incur an extra charge. Your utility’s website may also offer access under your account if you register. One advantage of the online version is that you may be able to compare several years' worth of energy use to see if there’s been a decrease.

How Old is Your Furnace?

Although residential heaters can last 15 - 20 years, they typically decline in efficiency by about five percent a year. You can stave off some of this reduction with regular maintenance from our HVAC technicians. They can conduct regular inspections and fix small issues. They will also advise you when it’s time to replace your furnace, which will be inevitable after a certain number of years.

All about the AFUE Rating

The AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) Rating shows how efficient a gas furnace is in converting fuel to energy. The higher the rating, the lower your fuel costs.

  • An AFUE of 78, which is the minimum for new furnaces, reveals that 78 percent of the energy consumed turns into heat with the remaining 22 percent used for processing. Another way to view this is per dollar spent. In this case, you’re only making full use of 78 cents while losing 22 cents.
  • An AFUE of 80 to 85 shows mid-range efficiency.
  • An AFUE of 90 to 97 is highly efficient.

AFUE ratings vary by heater fuel.

  • A mid-efficient that uses heating oil has an AFUE of 83 - 89.
  • An electric central or baseboard heater has an AFUE of 100.
  • Condensing natural gas heaters are at an AFUE of 90 - 97 although standard-efficiency versions only have an AFUE of 78 – 84.
  • Condensing propane heaters have an AFUE of 88 - 95 with standard efficiency models at 79 – 85.
  • Conventional firewood has an AFUE of 45 – 55 with state-of-art types showing 75 – 90.

You can easily find the AFUE of a furnace by looking at the faceplate of your furnace. Otherwise, you can look for your model’s serial number on the manufacturer’s website to find the rating.

Getting More from Your Heater

Whether you have a furnace with a high or low AFUE, you can improve the heating in your home with these easy tips.

  • Move large furniture away from vents and registers, so that they do not block the flow of heat into the room.
  • Shut the vents into unoccupied rooms to prevent heat from flowing into them. Close the doors into those rooms.
  • During the day, open your drapes to let in sunlight for free heat. At night, close them to keep heat from escaping through the windows.
  • If a room has a ceiling fan, adjust it to rotate in a clockwise direction. This pushes the warm air that collects near the ceiling back to the floor.
  • If you’re feeling a cold draft seeping from a door, install a door snake to block the opening at the bottom of the door.

For More Information

Do you have any questions about furnaces, energy efficiency, or how to make your home warmer? Then please Comfort Systems today!