So you need a new furnace. Us Minnesotans know how important it is to have a top-notch system that’ll keep us warm through winter. One of the biggest factors when considering a furnace purchase is its efficiency. Today, we’ll talk about the AFUE rating, which is how furnace efficiency is measured. By the time you’re done reading this, you’ll understand what an AFUE rating is, and how it can help you choose a furnace system that’s perfect for your home.

What is AFUE?

AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. It measures how efficient your gas furnace is at converting fuel into energy. A higher AFUE rating means greater efficiency. What does this mean? Well, if your furnace has an 80 percent AFUE, that means it turns 80 percent of the energy it consumes into heat. The other 20 percent gets used up during the heating process.

What’s considered a “good” AFUE?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, older heating systems can have an AFUE as low as 56 to 70 percent. New furnaces must have an AFUE rating of at least 78 percent to meet minimum government standards. A mid-efficiency heating system would have an AFUE somewhere in the range of 80 to 83 percent. High-efficiency heating systems are considered anything above 90 percent. The highest AFUE rating you’ll see is somewhere around 97 to 98.5 percent.

Is a high efficiency furnace really worth it?

The short answer is, it depends. Where you live has a big say in this. If you’re in a warm climate, you’re less likely to save money with a high-efficiency furnace than someone whose winters are colder. If you’re in Minnesota like us, this efficiency boost can save you lots of money each year.

Let’s break it down. Say you have a typical gas furnace with 80 percent AFUE. You are looking to upgrade to a top-of-the-line model that’s 96 percent efficient. Since this new system is 16 percent more efficient, you’ll save 16 percent on your annual energy bill. The average homeowner spends around $600 each year on heating. In our example, you’d save 16 percent of $600 with our more efficient furnace. This equates to $96 each year.

The average difference in cost between a mid-efficiency and a high-efficiency system is around $1,000. ​Saving $96 per year for 15 years, which is the average lifespan of a furnace, will save you over $1,500. ​In the long run, it’s worth it.

Minnesota’s cold winters can help a high-efficiency heating system pay off fast. Although it’s more expensive upfront, investing in this option is definitely worth it for folks living in colder climates.

Quality heating systems are one of the best investments a homeowner can make. Are you considering a gas furnace or another HVAC product? We’d love to talk to you about your options. Give Ron’s Mechanical a call at ​(952) 445-8585.