furnace's efficiency rating

Factors That Determine Your Furnace’s Efficiency Rating

March 1, 2023

Virginia has warm summers and cold winters, meaning that all homes will need heating in the cold months, with your furnace keeping your home comfortable in winter. However, winter utility bills can come as a surprise, especially with an inefficient furnace. Learn more about the factors that can determine your furnace’s efficiency rating in McLean, VA and the surrounding areas.

1. Unit Efficiency Rating

Every furnace receives an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating that rates its efficiency. The higher the rating, the more efficiently the unit operates. Units with high-efficiency ratings tend to cost more upfront but save money in utility bills every month.

An Energy Star sticker on the unit indicates high efficiency. However, you can determine efficiency by looking at the AFUE:

  • Low-efficiency furnaces – 56% to 70% AFUE
  • Medium efficiency furnaces – 80% to 83% AFUE
  • High-efficiency furnaces – 90% to 98.5% AFUE

To find your unit’s energy efficiency rating, read the label on the device. You can also read the user manual.

2. Installation

Always hire a professional to install your furnace. Improper installation can lead to inefficient operation of your furnace. Furthermore, improper installation can create a safety hazard. Furnace installation requires precise attention to detail. Some of the most common furnace installation mistakes include:

  • Improper drainage
  • Improper ventilation
  • Improper connection to ductwork

Every furnace comes with a warranty. However, improper installation can void the warranty. Keep the paperwork for your installation handy in case you ever need to file a warranty claim.

3. Home Insulation

Every homeowner must take steps to insulate their home. Insulation keeps outside air outside and indoor air inside. Insulation starts with a home’s building materials. For example, steel and concrete offer better efficiency than most wood. However, high-end wood comes treated to ensure a greater efficiency rating.

Energy-efficient windows and doors will also contribute to a highly insulated home. For a cost-efficient solution, consider caulk and weather-stripping to fill any of the small gaps around your doors and windows until you can upgrade.

Finally, contractors fill homes with insulation in walls and under the roof to increase efficiency. Foam insulation will last 30 years in your roof and up to 100 years in your walls, but homeowners may need to add new insulation to old insulation.

4. Temperature Settings

Homeowners set their furnace thermostats to their desired settings. The greater the temperature rise (the difference between the outside air and the indoor air), the more energy the unit will use.

According to the Department of Energy, homeowners save an average of 10% a year on heating costs by lowering the temperature by 7 to 10 degrees for 10 hours a day. Change the setting from 75 degrees to 68 degrees Fahrenheit from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. for an easy way to receive those savings. Use thick bedding and pajamas to keep yourself comfortable at night.

The best times to turn down the temperature are during the day when everyone is at work and school and at night when people are sleeping under warm blankets. You will probably lower the temperature more during the day compared to at night.

Keep your furnace on a strict schedule with a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats allow homeowners to automate temperature changes throughout the day, week and month. The smart thermostat also connects to your smartphone to send you notifications and allow you to make changes from anywhere.

5. Air Leaks

Furnaces transport heat through ductwork. Thin duct material allows heat to escape through a process known as standby heat loss, especially when transporting warm air to the furthest parts of your home. Additionally, ductwork can experience leaks or separations in joints. These leaks can severely minimize efficiency and even prevent certain parts of your home from receiving warm air.

When you need furnace services, go to the experts at Vernon Heating & Air Conditioning. They offer residential and commercial furnace repair and furnace installation. They can also offer boiler services.

Image provided by iStock

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