Does a High Efficiency Furnace Really Save You Money?

Reviewing savings through energy efficiency

People are always looking for ways to save money, particularly during the winter. Let’s face it; heating your home is expensive.

So when it comes time to installing a new furnace in Brampton (find out how long furnaces last), the biggest question is: will a higher efficiency one actually save you money?

We answer all your high-efficiency furnace questions:

  1. What Makes a Furnace “High-Efficiency”?
  2. How Does a High-Efficiency Furnace Work?
  3. What Does “Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency” Mean?
  4. How Much Do You Save With A High-Efficiency Furnace?
  5. Benefits of a High-Efficiency Furnace
  6. How Much Do High-Efficiency Furnaces Cost?
  7. Should I Install a High-Efficiency Furnace?

What Makes a Furnace “High-Efficiency”?

A high-efficiency gas furnace is distinguished by its ability to extract more heat from the same amount of fuel compared to standard natural gas furnaces. 

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This heightened efficiency is achieved through a combination of advanced technologies and innovative design features. One of the key components of high-efficiency furnaces is the inclusion of a secondary heat exchanger. This secondary exchanger captures additional heat from the combustion process, which would otherwise be lost in standard models. By maximizing the heat extraction process, high-efficiency furnaces are able to deliver more warmth for every unit of fuel consumed.

Furthermore, this type of furnace is equipped with variable-speed blower motors. Unlike the fixed-speed motors found in conventional furnaces, variable-speed motors can adjust the airflow to precisely match the heating requirements of your home. 

Napoleon Furnace 9600Q Series

This means that the high efficiency gas furnace can operate at a lower, more energy-efficient capacity during milder weather, reducing energy consumption and ultimately saving on utility bills.

How Does a High-Efficiency Furnace Work?

High-efficiency furnaces operate on the principle of variable heating stages. They are equipped with two-stage or modulating gas valves that allow for fine-tuned control over the combustion process. Unlike single-stage furnaces, which have a basic on/off setting, high-efficiency models can adjust the amount of heat being put out by changing how much fuel is being burned. 

In addition to variable heating stages, energy-efficient models of gas or propane furnaces often incorporate advanced features like sealed combustion systems. These systems draw in outside air for combustion, rather than using indoor air. This not only enhances safety by preventing potential backdrafting of exhaust gases but also contributes to the overall efficiency of the furnace. 

Also, many high-efficiency gas furnace models utilize condensing technology, which extracts additional heat from the exhaust gases by allowing them to cool and condense before exiting the system. This further boosts the furnace’s performance and efficiency.

What Does “Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency” Mean?

Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) is a crucial metric when evaluating furnace efficiency. It represents the percentage of fuel that is converted into usable heat over the course of a heating season. For example, a gas furnace with an AFUE of 95% means that 95% of the fuel it consumes is converted into heat, while the remaining 5% is lost through exhaust.

Energy-efficient furnaces typically have AFUE ratings of 90% or higher, which means they are an exceptionally efficient heating system when converting fuel into heat, ultimately leading to lower energy costs.

You Could Save $22.50 a Month – or More – on Your Heating Bill

The best way to figure out if a high efficiency heating system or furnace is worth it is to break down the numbers.

Let’s say the average homeowner in Toronto spends approximately $150 a month on heating and cooling, and your furnace has an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) of 80. This is common for most furnaces purchased more than ten years ago.

An AFUE of 80 means that for every dollar you spend on heating, 20 cents is essentially being wasted.

When you’re ready for a new furnace, you upgrade to a high efficiency furnace with an AFUE of 95, a common rating for the furnaces of today, and just above the government-required AFUE of 90.

This translates to about $22.50 a month in savings (15% of $150) when your furnace is in use. That doesn’t sound like a lot until you add it up over the years. Since a well-cared for natural gas furnace has a lifespan of 15 years or more, you’ll more than make up for the higher upfront costs of purchasing a higher efficiency furnace.

Bonus: There are some programs in place that offer rebates when you upgrade to a more efficient furnace model. Talk to your HVAC retailer about what’s available to see if you can get even more savings.

Use Resources and Tools to Get a More Accurate Estimate

Remember, each home is a little different when it comes to heating costs, and the above numbers were calculated based on one set of numbers.

In reality, some estimates say that you could save up to 40% on your heating bills. That’s why you should:

  • Use information from your gas bill and current furnace for more accurate calculations.
  • Talk to a Dr HVAC technician – they’ll be able to help answer questions you might have about the furnace itself.

Benefits of a High-Efficiency Furnace

While money definitely talks, a higher efficiency gas furnace offers more than just savings. A high-efficiency furnace offers a range of significant benefits that make it an attractive choice for homeowners looking to upgrade their heating system. Here are some of the key advantages:

Lower Energy Bills

High-efficiency gas furnaces are designed to extract more heat from the same amount of fuel. This means they require less fuel to generate the same level of warmth, resulting in lower monthly energy bills. Over time, these savings can offset the initial investment of the furnace.

Reduced Environmental Impact

Because high-efficiency furnaces use fuel more efficiently, they produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to standard models. This means they have a lower environmental impact, making them a more eco-friendly choice for environmentally-conscious homeowners.

Increased Comfort

High-efficiency furnaces often incorporate features like variable-speed blowers, which allow for more precise control over airflow. This means they can better match the heating needs of your home, resulting in more consistent and comfortable temperatures.

Quieter Operation

Advanced technology and engineering in high-efficiency furnaces often lead to quieter operation. This is achieved through features like variable-speed motors and insulated components that help dampen noise levels.

Improved Indoor Air Quality

Getting a high-efficiency furnace installed will maintain indoor air quality.  Energy efficient furnaces often have sealed combustion systems, which draw in outside air for combustion. This improves air quality by preventing the furnace from using indoor air, which may be laden with dust, allergens, or pollutants.

Longer Lifespan

High-efficiency furnaces are typically built with high-quality materials and advanced components. This means they tend to have longer lifespans and require fewer repairs over time. A reliable furnace means peace of mind!

Potential for Incentives and Rebates

Canada offers the Greener Homes Grant and Greener Homes Loan for upgrading to high-efficiency heating systems. These incentives can significantly offset the initial cost of the furnace and enhance its cost-effectiveness.

Increased Home Value

Installing a high-efficiency furnace can enhance the value of your home. Prospective buyers often view energy-efficient upgrades positively, which can make your property more appealing on the real estate market.

Compliance with Energy Efficiency Standards

In some regions, high-efficiency furnaces may be required to meet certain energy efficiency standards or building codes. By choosing a high-efficiency model, you ensure your home complies with these regulations.

Enhanced Safety Features

Many high-efficiency furnaces incorporate advanced safety features, such as sealed combustion systems and diagnostic controls. These features help minimize the risk of hazards like carbon monoxide leaks or backdrafting of exhaust gases.

How Much Do High-Efficiency Furnaces Cost?

While the initial cost of a high-efficiency furnace is higher than that of a standard model, it’s important to consider the long-term savings in energy bills. High-efficiency furnaces can significantly reduce monthly heating costs, potentially offsetting the initial investment over time.

The exact cost of a high-efficiency furnace depends on factors like the brand, model, and any additional features or installation requirements. It’s advisable to consult with a licensed HVAC professional who can provide accurate pricing based on your specific needs.

Should I Install a High-Efficiency Furnace?

Whether to install a high-efficiency furnace depends on various factors, including your climate, budget, and long-term goals. If you live in an area with harsh winters or expect to stay in your home for an extended period, the energy savings offered by a high-efficiency furnace can make it a wise investment.

Additionally, many regions offer incentives or rebates for upgrading to high-efficiency heating systems, further enhancing their cost-effectiveness. Consulting with an HVAC professional can help you assess your specific situation and determine if a high-efficiency furnace is the right choice for you.

Talk to Us About Getting a High Efficiency Furnace

Once you’ve decided to join the high efficiency team, you have to pick the right high efficiency furnace. We want to save you money, but we also want to make sure that the furnace we install is one that will fit your home.

Come talk to us about our many available models, and we’ll help you choose your next furnace.

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