Would you believe that more than half of your home’s energy costs are from your heating and cooling? That’s why it’s so important to secure an energy-efficient HVAC system.
Furnace efficiency standards were last updated to an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating of 80% in 2015. This rating system illustrates how effective your furnace is at converting natural gas into heat. An AFUE rating of 80% means your furnace wastes about 20% of the fuel it uses while creating heat.
In 2022, the U.S. government recommended new energy-efficiency standards for residential gas furnaces that would substantially reduce emissions, save consumers money and stimulate sustainability.
The updated standards are anticipated to:
- Save Americans $1.9 billion annually.
- Lower carbon emissions by 373 million metric tons and methane emissions by 5.1 million tons over the next 25 - 30 years, the equivalent of what 61 million homes emit yearly.
Starting in 2029, the proposed rule would mandate all new gas furnaces to feature AFUE ratings of 95%. This means furnaces would combust nearly 100% of the gas into usable heat.
Considering these guidelines, you might be asking yourself what does that mean for my existing furnace? Currently, next to nothing, as the proposed rule won't go into effect until 2029 at the earliest and will not affect furnaces that are already in use.
But if your furnace is nearing the end of its life and a replacement is needed in soon, highly energy-efficient furnaces are ready and available. Find out how these furnaces can lower your monthly energy bills.
Guide to Condensing Furnaces
How Condensing Furnaces Work
A condensing furnace is a type of heating system that uses a secondary heat exchanger to trap wasted heat from the furnace's exhaust gases. This limits the quantity of energy wasted, improves energy efficiency and lowers carbon-monoxide emissions. It also requires less natural gas to create the same amount of heat when comparing one to other types of furnaces.
How Condensing Furnaces Differ from Non-Condensing Furnaces
The primary difference between a condensing furnace and a non-condensing furnace is condensing models use a secondary heat exchanger to capture any wasted heat from its exhaust gases, while the latter does not.
How Long Condensing Furnaces Last
The life span of a condensing furnace will depend on the brand, model and other factors. Generally speaking, a condensing furnace is likely to last between 10-20 years with sufficient maintenance and regular service. If your heating system doesn’t have regular furnace maintenance, the unit may not last as long.
Why Condensing Furnaces Require a Higher Investment
Usually, condensing furnaces type of system is much more efficient than standard, single-speed furnaces, as it only consumes the minimum amount of energy necessary to heat your home, saving you money in the long run.
Most variable-speed furnaces are condensing furnaces, although a few are available in non-condensing models with lower AFUE ratings. If a manufacturer wants a furnace to be classified as a condensing furnace, it must offer an AFUE rating of 90% or higher.
Do Variable-Speed Furnaces Run All the Time?
A variable-speed furnace doesn’t operate all the time. Instead, it runs at different speeds according to the temperature in your home as well as the amount of energy it needs to reach that temperature.
When sufficient energy is needed to maintain your set temperature level, the furnace will switch to a higher speed to handle the demand. Doing this will ensure more efficient heating in your home while also providing quieter operation.
Guide to Two-Stage Furnaces
Two-Stage Furnaces: What They Are and How They Work
A heating system with two settings of operating - high and low - is called a two-stage furnace. When set to the low stage, the furnace performs at a reduced capacity as a way to maintain the desired temperature for your home more efficiently. During the high stage, the furnace will instead function at peak capacity to satisfy demands for increased heat. With a two-stage furnace, you can maintain enhanced energy efficiency and balanced temperatures all across your home.
While two-stage furnaces are highly efficient, not all all models are condensing furnaces.
Does a Two-Stage Furnace Operate All the Time?
A two-stage furnace does not stay on indefinitely. In the low stage of operation, the furnace runs at limited capacity in order to maintain a desired temperature more efficiently within your home. When a greater demand for energy is needed to reach the set temperature, the heating system switches to its high stage and runs at full capacity. Because of this, two-stage furnaces are powerful enough to help reduce energy costs without operating around the clock.
Contrasting Two-Stage and Variable-Speed Furnaces
Two-stage furnaces have two stages of operation, low and high. During the low stage, the furnace works at reduced capacity as a way to sustain a desired level of comfort within your home. When additional warmth or cooling is needed, the furnace will switch to its high stage and operate at full capacity.
Variable-speed furnaces, meanwhile, can work at several speeds in order to maintain a more precise temperature at home. As such, variable-speed furnaces offer greater savings on your utility bills .
Differences Between One- and Two-Stage Furnaces
One-stage furnaces have a single stage fan speed and operate either at full power or not at all. This translates to higher energy bills because the furnace runs constantly in order to maintain a desired comfort level within your home.
Conversely, two-stage furnaces have two stages of operation, low and high. While in the low stage, the furnace runs at [lower|reduced} capacity in order to maintain the desired temperature more efficiently. When a greater demand for warmth or cooling is necessary, the furnace will change over to its high stage and operate at peak capacity.
Make Your Furnace Installation Appointment with Gopher Heating and Air Conditioning Today
Making sense of modern furnace technology can be confusing. That’s why Gopher Heating and Air Conditioning professionals are here to help with a free, no-pressure estimate for furnace installation. We’ll assess your home, your heating needs and your budget before helping you find the right solution. Get in touch with us at to get started today!