Heating is the largest energy expense in most homes. If you don’t keep track of your heating system’s efficiency, you could find yourself with abnormally high heating bills.
In this article, we will explain some of the ways to know if your heating system is operating efficiently.
Annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) is a key energy efficiency rating that measures how efficiently a heating system converts fuel into energy. In other words, this rating measures what percentage of fuel used by a heating system actually makes it to your home as actual heat. Expressed as a percentage, AFUE helps homeowners determine the efficiency of their heating systems. A higher AFUE rating means greater efficiency. For instance, a heating system with a 90% AFUE rating means that 90% of the fuel being used is converted into heat, and only 10% of that fuel’s energy is lost.
The minimum allowable AFUE rating for heating systems in the U.S. is 80%. Mid-efficiency heating systems have an AFUE rating between 80 and 83 percent, whereas high-efficiency units have an AFUE rating ranging from 90 to 98.5 percent. A heating system with an AFUE rating lower than 80 percent is considered low efficiency.
Knowing the age of your heating system can also help you determine if the unit is operating efficiently. The average lifespan of a home’s heating system is about 15 to 20 years. Even high-efficiency units may not run at their full capacity over time because a unit’s AFUE rating can decline by up to 5% annually if you don’t keep up with maintenance. Even with proper maintenance, a heating system with a high AFUE rating will not necessarily be operating efficiently if it’s over 10 years old. Normal wear and tear is bound to reduce a heater’s efficiency over time. Basically, a newer unit is more energy efficient compared to an older system. If your heating system is approaching its lifespan and its energy efficiency has declined significantly, it’s advisable to call an HVAC company to help you install a new unit.
If your heating system is labeled as EnergyStar Certified, it means the appliance meets strict energy-efficiency specifications set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EnergyStar Certified heating systems can be up to 15 percent more efficient than standard models. Apart from using less energy, these heating systems create a positive impact on the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
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