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Electric Furnaces and the Tricky Thing About Efficiency Ratings

heating-elementShopping for a new heating system isn’t exactly most homeowners’ idea of fun—especially during the holiday season. But if you have to replace your old furnace because heating repair in New Port Richey, FL won’t keep it running, then you don’t have much choice.

You do, however, have many options when it comes to furnaces. This is where things can get tricky. There are many types of furnaces available today with energy-saving features and extremely high efficiency ratings. You have to be careful when looking over efficiency ratings because they can be misleading. To ensure you end up with the best new furnace installation to meet your needs, arrange for the replacement with our technicians. We provide honest solutions that take care of your family’s comfort and which will match your current budget.

The Electric Furnace Efficiency Confusion

This post specifically examines the confusing aspect of electric furnace efficiency ratings and how they can sometimes lead customers to make inaccurate assumptions.

The energy efficiency rating for all types of furnaces, whether gas or electric or propane, is annual fuel utilization efficiency, or AFUE. This is listed as a percentage of the energy source the furnace converts into heating power. For example, a mid-efficiency natural gas furnace with an AFUE of 80% (often listed as simply AFUE 80) changes 80% of the natural gas it burns into heat sent into the house. The remaining 20% goes to waste as exhaust. The higher AFUE, the more efficient the furnace.

However, a more efficient furnace doesn’t necessarily mean one that’s less expensive to run. This is where the efficiency of an electric furnace comes in. All electric furnaces have AFUE of 100%. That sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Electric furnaces have no energy waste at all, so at first glance, it seems like this must be a better choice than gas furnaces, which even at their most efficient won’t reach 100%. And high-efficiency gas furnaces cost much more to purchase than electric furnaces.

But all electric furnaces have AFUE 100 because that’s simply how electrical resistance heating works. There’s no exhaust—the electricity heats up the metal of the heating elements and heats the air directly.

The big difference is the cost of the energy source. Electricity is more expensive to use in a furnace than natural gas. In most homes, a gas furnace will cost less to run each year, regardless of its AFUE, than an electric furnace of the same size.

Although there are no absolutes when it comes to a new heating system, we strongly recommend staying with a natural gas furnace for your house if you have access to a gas main. You may wish to upgrade to a high-efficiency furnace, such as changing from an AFUE of 80% to 90%, but this will depend on your budget.

If your house doesn’t have natural gas, you may wish to consider a heat pump as an alternative to an electric furnace. Heat pumps are excellent for comfort in our climate (working as both heaters and air conditioners) and use less electricity to run than electric furnaces.

Call Balanced Air, Inc. for your heating needs and “Experience Comfort!”

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