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Is Your Heater Energy Efficient? – 3 Ways to Find Out

By Your Advisor 3/30/18 7:25 AM Time to read:

Heating your home can be expensive. If you’re not careful, you can end up paying a shocking energy bill. 

While properly controlling your heat throughout the winter can help you lower your energy bills, it still may not be enough. If your heater is not energy efficient, it can feel like you’re burning cash just to stay warm. 

The more efficient your heater is, the less it should cost to run. However, it's not necessarily easy to know when your system is working the best it can. 

If you are unsure about your heater's level of efficiency, here are three ways to find out. 

1. Know Your AFUE Rating

The annual fuel utilization efficiency, or AFUE, is the best way to determine your heater's ideal efficiency. An AFUE rating is a percentage that measures how efficiently your heater can convert fuel into energy. The higher the AFUE, the more efficient the heater. 

For instance, a 98% AFUE rating indicates that 98% of the fuel being used is actually heating your home. Only 2% of that fuel's energy is lost. However, older furnaces can have an AFUE rating as low as 56%. In those cases, 44% of the energy being generated is vented to the outside and wasted.

Your heater's AFUE rating can be found in its user's manual or on a sticker located inside the furnace cabinet. If you’re unable to locate the rating through either of these options, you can also contact the manufacturer or search the make and model of your heater on the internet. 

To be considered a high-efficiency furnace the AFUE rating must be 90% or higher. A heater with an 80% rating is typically sufficient and quite common in temperate climates. The minimum AFUE rating allowed for new equipment is 78%. 

2. Consider Your Heater’s Age

Knowing your heater’s AFUE rating is a great start to evaluating your heating efficiency, but it doesn’t always tell the whole story. 

The average life expectancy of a home’s heater is about 15-20 years.   Even if your heater starts out with a superb AFUE rating, it can decline about 5% every year that it isn’t properly maintained. 

Although you may have taken great care of your equipment over the years, components will begin to wear down with age and steady use. Besides, with so many advances in HVAC technology even a 10 year old system could benefit from an upgrade.

Consider your heater's age, it's original AFUE rating and do the math. If energy efficiency and saving money on your utility bill is important to you, you may decide to start preparing for that purchase sooner rather than later. 

3. Compare Energy Bills

It’s natural for energy bills to fluctuate from time to time. Changing seasons, living situations or a rise in energy costs are common culprits. 

However, comparing the amount of energy you’re using each month can help you identify if your heater is losing efficiency. If your energy bill is significantly higher than the same time last year, your heater may not be running as well as it could be. 

Keep an eye on your heating bills and note any outside influences that may contribute to a higher bill, such as changing climate patterns from year to year, lack of maintenance performed, or general home upgrades needed like insulation, windows, and weather-stripping.  Tracking these shifts can help you make smarter choices about heating your home. 

Maintaining Your Heater’s Efficiency

Whether you’re in the market for a new heater or you’re hoping to keep your current system running as long as possible, taking proper care of your heater can help to maintain its efficiency. 

If you’re in the market for a new system, a conscientious advisor will take your local climate and personal preferences into account and propose the most ideal equipment for your home. To keep your AFUE rating as accurate as possible, maintain a regular schedule of check and service appointments to keep your system running its best. 

The expert Service and Maintenance Technicians at Burgeson’s Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. can help you properly maintain your heating system to ensure it is running as efficiently as possible. 

If you’re ready to schedule a maintenance appointment, or if you'd like to speak to a Comfort Advisor about installing a new, high-efficiency system, give us a call at (909) 792-2222. We’d be happy to help you find the efficient heating solution that meets your needs.