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What Furnace AFUE Rating Should I Get? A Minneapolis-St. Paul Tech Explains

What Furnace AFUE Rating Should I Get? A Minneapolis-St. Paul Tech Explains

If you’ve been shopping for a new furnace, you may have heard of AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) ratings.

As a quick refresher, AFUE ratings measure the energy efficiency of a furnace. The higher the AFUE rating, the more energy-efficient the furnace.

More energy-efficient furnaces are more expensive upfront, but they have a lower operational cost, which means you can potentially save on your monthly energy bills.

So, what AFUE rating should you go with?

Since we rely on our furnaces so heavily in Minneapolis-St. Paul, we recommend going with a furnace that has an AFUE rating of 90% or higher.

We’ll explain more below…

Want a professional recommendation for your new furnace? We can help!

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Why we recommend going with a furnace 90% AFUE or higher

Let’s start with a little background information...

  • You can categorize furnaces into 2 general buckets:
  • 80% to 89% AFUE (non-condensing units)
  • 90% to 98.5% AFUE (condensing, high-efficiency units)

What do these percentages mean? In the case of a standard, non-condensing furnace, the percentage means that 80% of the fuel used to heat the home is directly transformed into heat, while 20% is lost via exhaust gases.

While both categories are considered “energy-efficient,” condensing furnaces are even more efficient.

What makes condensing units so efficient?

Condensing furnaces have a second heat exchanger, which is the part that heats your home’s air. This second heat exchanger absorbs heat from gases that would normally be vented out of a standard, non-condensing furnace. The condensing furnace then uses this extra heat to help warm your home’s air.

The result? You get more heat for less money with a condensing furnace.

Since we rely on our furnaces so heavily here in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, these cost savings can add up significantly over time, and usually make up the difference in the higher installation cost. (Check out our blog, “80% vs. 90%+ AFUE Gas Furnaces for Minneapolis Homes” for a cost breakdown.)

The bottom line? A 90% AFUE furnace has the potential to pay for its higher upfront installation cost by the end of its lifespan (10–15 years).


Why you need a professional to give an AFUE recommendation

Of course, every household is different, so to know if a high-efficiency furnace is the best option financially, you’ll need to consult with a professional.

You see, the actual long-term energy savings you’ll get depends on questions like:

  • What is the condition of your home’s ductwork? If your ductwork has leaks, holes or disconnected ducts, you won’t see the energy savings of a high-efficiency furnace.
  • Is your home well-insulated? If your home is not well-insulated, your furnace will have to work harder to heat your home, which would negate any savings you’d get from a 90%+ AFUE furnace.
  • What types of features will the furnace have? Monthly energy savings also depends on the technology of the furnace, not just the AFUE rating alone. Furnaces with advanced technology like variable-speed blowers and modulating burners will be more energy-efficient than furnaces with basic, single-speed/stage technology.
  • How long do you expect to live in your current home? If you don’t plan on living in your home long term, the higher installation cost of a 90%+ AFUE furnace may not be worth the investment.
  • A professional can take all of these factors into consideration and help you choose the right furnace for your home.

Want a professional’s opinion?

We’re happy to answer any questions and help you choose a new furnace that fits your comfort needs and budget.

Contact us today

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