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The ENERGY STAR-Rated Furnace: What It Means

gas-furnaceYou may be in the middle of deciding on a new furnace installation for your home. Fall is the best time to have this job done. If you’re still on the fence about getting a new furnace, call our technicians for assistance. We’ll provide you with honest and straightforward answers about whether it’s time to send your current furnace to the scrapheap and put in a new one, or if repairs can keep a heating system working effectively and efficiently for a few more years.

If you choose to have a new furnace installation in Fresno, CA, you’ll face more decisions. We can help you with this as well. In this post, we’ll talk about installing a furnace that meets the ENERGY STAR requirements, a program by the Department of Energy that guides consumers to products that are energy efficient and have other beneficial features.

How a Gas Furnace Qualifies for ENERGY STAR Certification

The criteria for ENERGY STAR certification changes as technology improves and it becomes easier for furnaces to have higher efficiency. According to current ENERGY STAR standards (for California), a gas furnace must meet the two following requirements for certification:

  • A 90% or greater AFUE rating.
  • A high efficiency, electronically commutated fan motor.

There’s plenty packed into those two requirements, so we’ll break it down for you.

90% or Greater AFUE

Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency is the standard for measuring how efficiently a furnace changes its energy source into heating power. AFUE is the percentage of energy the unit converts into heating, with the remaining escaping as exhaust. So a furnace with 90% AFUE converts 90 units of every 100 units of natural gas into space heating.

High AFUE is not a guarantee of cost savings. For example, electric furnaces have AFUE of 100% because they don’t lose heat to exhaust. But the high cost of electricity often means electric furnaces are more expensive to run than gas furnaces.

As a point of comparison, older mid-efficiency furnaces used to have AFUE ratings between 70% to 80%—the standards have risen significantly.

The Electronically Commutated Fan Motor

Also known as an EC motor. This is a high-efficiency motor with electronic control so it can operate over a range of speeds. This allows the motors to combine the best of both AC and DC motors, with constant torque and airflow design. They have lower operating costs, can last for longer than the older types of motors found in furnaces, and operate at quieter levels. EC motors help furnaces achieve better results, lower costs, and longer service lives.

We Recommend ENERGY STAR Furnaces

There are many high-efficiency furnaces on the market with the ENERGY STAR label (high efficiency means AFUE of 95% or greater), but buying a standard ENERGY STAR-certified furnace is still a big deal for your home and often the right price for a household budget. There are many extra options to consider for furnaces, such as multi-stage burners, but when you start with ENERGY STAR-certified units, you’re already in good shape for a new system.

We’ll be there with you at each step to ensure you have a furnace that meets your current and future needs.

Schedule your furnace service with Purl’s Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning. “Quality Is the Cornerstone of Our Success” since 1952.

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