Understanding Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) Ratings

Presidential Heating & Air Conditioning

Gaithersburg HVAC Contractors


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Designed by the Department of Energy in 1975, The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating is a reliable and effective way for consumers to evaluate and compare the efficiency of furnaces and heating systems.

Although you could compare potential home heating options without a complete understanding of what this rating actually means, having the full picture will allow you to make the best possible choice for you and your family.

The experienced team at Presidential Heating & Air Conditioning is committed to providing the information you need to make the right choice about your furnace options. Here’s what you need to know about AFUE ratings and how to choose the best furnace for your Gaithersburg home.

Installing gas furnaces in Gaithersburg

What Is the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) Rating?

An AFUE rating is an expression of thermal efficiency over time, specifically in reference to furnaces and boilers. This rating, expressed as a percentage, is the ratio of useful energy output to energy input.  In other words, what percentage of heat does the unit put out, as compared to the fuel needed to power the equipment.

This rating is meant to be taken as a reference point for comparing different furnaces, rather than a literal expression of efficiency. Although the two measures are not truly equivalent, AFUE provides a similar reference point for heaters as SEER ratings provide for air conditioning systems.

What the AFUE rating does not tell you is how comfortable a heater or furnace will make your home. This rating applies only to operational efficiency as it concerns energy use.

What Rating Indicates a Fuel-Efficient Furnace?

In 2013, the US Department of Energy mandated that all new furnaces sold in the U.S. have a minimum AFUE rating of 80%. If you choose a model with this rating, your heater will convert 80% of its fuel into heating while the remaining 20% will be lost as system exhaust.

High-efficiency furnaces have AFUE ratings ranging from 90% – 98.5%

Homeowners in colder climates will want to invest in Energy Star certified furnaces with a higher AFUE. Those living in warmer climates will want to weigh the additional cost of a higher-efficiency furnace against their annual heating costs.  You may not be able to justify the extra investment.

Factors for Choosing a New Home Heating System

If you have an older system in your home, your equipment rating could be as low as the mid-50% range. In that case, a furnace replacement will likely be a solid and cost-saving investment.

AFUE ratings are but one of the factors when choosing a new heating system for your Maryland home. You will also want to consider:

  • The fuel type that powers furnaces and heating units
  • The size of the system based on the unique factors that apply to you, your family, and your home
  • The maintenance requirements of any systems you’re considering

The best way to ensure that you’re getting the best solution for your needs is to consult with an experienced Maryland heating and air conditioning contractor.

Presidential Heating & Air Conditioning has been Montgomery County’s premier HVAC contractor since 1982. For help determining the right choice for you, contact us today regarding oil, electric, and gas furnaces in Gaithersburg.

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