An Energy Efficient Furnace Reduces Heating Costs As Well As Greenhouse Gas Emissions

by Nicola Temple on December 21, 2011

If your furnace was built around the same time Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon, it might be time to consider upgrading to an energy efficient furnace for your home.

After all, if your furnace isn’t efficient, you are quite literally burning money.

Furnaces are rated on their percent efficiency. The standard building code requires furnaces to be 80% efficient or more.

This means that if a furnace is 80% efficient, 80 cents of every dollar you put into heating your home is actually heating your home, while 20 cents is going out the venting pipe.

Obviously better efficiency is going to mean lower heating costs, but it’s also going to mean less energy wasted and less greenhouse gas emissions.

In fact, the US government suggests that if just one in ten households used ENERGY STAR qualified heating and cooling systems, the carbon emissions would be equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the road.

If lower heating costs, improved efficiency and reduced greenhouse gases aren’t enough incentive to trade that clunker in your basement in for a more efficient furnace, here are some other direct benefits of upgrading.

energy efficient furnace

If your furnace looks like this circa 1960 model, it is definitely time to upgrade to an energy efficient furnace. CC image courtesy of Dwight Sipler on Flickr.

Five more reasons to switch to an energy efficient furnace

  • If you get a furnace that is 95% efficient or more, you will qualify for tax credits, which will help offset the cost of the furnace.
  •  Inefficient furnaces can result in the house being heated inconsistently, creating cold spots, but also hot spots throughout the home. An efficient furnace will provide a more consistent heat throughout your home.
  • An old furnace can sometimes sound like the monster in the basement with its rumbling and clunking.  A new efficient furnace won’t be the monster in your basement. Newer models operate on lower settings the majority of the time, which inherently makes them quieter.
  • New furnaces generally run in a two stage process. When heating requirements are less, they will run in the first-stage which is less than 70% capacity and therefore uses less fuel. If heating demands increase, then it will kick into the second-stage. This gives more precise control of the temperature in the home and differs from the old beater in the basement that is either running at full capacity or off.
  • Utility companies often offer rebates for upgrading your furnace to a more energy efficient model, so be sure to check as this will also help offset the cost of this very expensive purchase.

Energy Star’s five most efficient furnaces for 2011

If you have made the decision to upgrade your furnace, then the next step is to start researching the furnace that’s right for your home. A good place to start is with ENERGY STAR’s list of most efficient furnaces for 2011. Here are the top five from that list:

  • Carrier 59MN7 Infinity achieves an annual fuel use efficiency (AFUE) of 97.4%. The annual cost of running it is approximately $508.
  • Bryant Evolution System 987M achieves an AFUE of up to 97%. The annual cost of running it is approximately $510.
  • Tempstar SmartComfort VC97 achieves an AFUE of 97% and has an annual running cost of about $510.
  • Arcoaire VC 97 achieves an AFUE of 97% and again, has an annual running cost around $510.
  • Kenmore VC 97 has the same specs at an AFUE of 97% and annual running cost of $510.

Although the initial cost of an energy efficient furnace, such as these, can be a bit more than less efficient models, the cheaper running costs will narrow this gap over time. Also, be sure to have your furnace properly maintained to insure you are achieving maximum efficiency.  Proper insulation and duct sealing will also help to lower the running cost of your furnace as less heat will be escaping from your home.

With numerous tax incentives and company rebates, it’s a good time to upgrade to an energy efficient furnace. It’s a big investment, but it will reduce your heating costs over time and it will help the environment by reducing your energy consumption.

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