If you’re looking for ways to reduce your winter heating bills, consider replacing your old conventional furnace with a highly efficient condensing furnace. Condensing furnaces utilize new technologies and energy-saving components to offer a system that burns less fuel, uses less electricity and considerably lowers your bottom line.
The annual fuel utilization efficiency, or AFUE, of a furnace indicates its fuel efficiency. A furnace older than ten years has an AFUE of around 65 percent. This means that only 65 percent of the fuel burned by the furnace is converted to heat, while the remaining 35 percent is sent outdoors as exhaust. Condensing gas furnaces have an AFUE of 90 to 98.5 percent.
So what makes condensing gas furnaces so fuel-efficient? These energy-saving components of a condensing furnace work together to reduce fuel and electricity consumption:
- Dual heat exchangers. A conventional furnace has one heat exchanger. After the air is heated, the exhaust gases are vented outdoors, along with a good portion of your heating dollars. A condensing gas furnace has a secondary heat exchanger that recovers the exhaust from the primary heat exchanger and uses it to produce more heat for your home.
- Modulating gas valve. The gas valve in a furnace regulates the flow of fuel to the system. Condensing furnaces have new valves that allow the system to modulate the fuel consumption from 40 to 100 percent of its capacity to match the real-time heating needs of the home. On warmer days, the valve releases less fuel, heating your home more evenly and efficiently than a conventional furnace, which uses the same amount of fuel to heat your home regardless of its actual heating requirements.
- Variable-speed fan blower. Conventional furnaces have two speeds: on and off. When on, the blower sends warm air to the home through the ductwork at one constant speed. The variable-speed blower on a condensing furnace modulates the blower speed to meet the actual heating need in your home. During warmer spells, the blower slows down, heating your home more evenly and efficiently and offering superior air filtration to improve your home’s indoor air quality.
- Electronically-commutated motor. The variable-speed fan blower on a condensing furnace is powered by an electronically-commutated motor, or ECM, which is similar to the type of motor used to cool computers. ECMs use up to 75 percent less electricity than a conventional furnace’s split-capacitor motor and are much quieter.
- Sealed combustion chamber. Conventional furnaces use household air for combustion. A condensing furnace features an air intake directly vented outdoors through PVC piping. The sealed combustion chamber greatly reduces the risk of dangerous carbon monoxide leaks in the home, making these units safer to operate than conventional furnaces.
These components of a condensing furnace work together to allow the user to adjust the airflow and heating in the home by 1 percent increments, offering precise temperature control that is unmatched by any other type of heating system.
While a condensing furnace is more expensive than its conventional counterpart, the savings on utility bills offered by this highly efficient system more than pay for the unit over the course of its life.