The more efficient a furnace operates, the lower your energy bill for heating. Calculating a furnace’s energy costs requires considering both the gas it burns and the electricity it consumes to run its blowers and controls.
This energy distribution factors into your system’s annual fuel-utilization-efficiency (AFUE) rating. The higher the percentage, the more heat the furnace can stockpile from each therm of gas—causing a lower environmental emissions impact. This added boost in efficiency will lower utility bills in the long run, and reduce energy consumption, but initially you may need to spend money to purchase and install new equipment.
80% vs. 92% AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency)
AFUE is the most widely used measure of a furnace’s heating efficiency, measuring the amount of heat actually delivered to your house with the amount of fuel that you must supply to the furnace. Thus, an 80% AFUE system converts 80% of the fuel to supply you with heat – the other 20% is lost out of the chimney. (This estimate considers natural gas, propane or oil, but not electrical usage.)
When will this change take place?
The compliance date goes into effect five years after the ruling date. The DOE suggests this scenario. “Let’s say the final rule is published on May 1, 2016, in the Federal Register. In that case, May 1, 2021, would be the date after which manufacturers could no longer manufacture equipment that is under 92% AFUE.” Notice, this does not mean you must toss out your less than 92% equipment by then – it does mean that you can no longer purchase a less than 92% furnace beyond that date.
So say your system is 15 years old, or is no longer operating efficiently. This would be the time to consider replacement, because if you wish, you can still purchase an 80% AFUE system before the mandates go into effect, or…
What is involved in adding a 92% AFUE furnace?
An 80% furnace still uses a traditional metal pipe for exhaust. The 92% plus furnace must have PVC pipe for its exhaust, and usually exits the home through the closest side wall. Plus, it requires a drain for the condensation accumulating in the exhaust pipe.
The DOE (Department of Energy) proposal means new national standards imposed for residential gas and mobile home furnaces that would effectively ban the manufacture of non-condensing furnaces (below 90%) in the future.
Other than the higher price for the unit, most homes will need to replace the venting system: those outdated metal pipes will require the installation of new PVC piping. These will be routed out the side of the home or up through the roof. In homes with finished basements or multi-unit dwellings such as town homes or condos, extensive drywall repairs may be required for the new venting to be installed. HOAs will get involved, as well as contractors.
An approximate difference in cost could look like this:
80% $3,000 installed
92% $4,200 installed plus additional carpentry up to $1,500 or more.
How will this help the environment, reduce energy consumption and save money?
On the flip side: according to DOE’s analysis, upgrading to a higher system could save 31 billion therms of natural gas, or about enough gas over 32 years – capable of heating all the homes in New York State for more than 11 years – saving consumers $14.5 billion.
The choice is yours.
ABEL Heating & Cooling wants to help customers in maintaining or installing what works best for their HVAC needs. Giving you a heads up on the latest DOE proposed mandates should help you to make a more informed decision.
Call us at 952-472-2665 or Contact us with any questions or concerns you may have.