If you’ve shopped for HVAC equipment lately, you’ve probably encountered an alphabet soup of acronyms as you start to evaluate your choices. One of the most important of these acronyms when it comes to buying a furnace is AFUE. But what does it mean, and what does it mean for you?
AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency – a measure of the efficiency of your furnace that’s a bit like MPG for your car.
A furnace’s AFUE rating represents how much fuel it can convert into usable heat on a scale between 30 and 100. For example, in an 85 AFUE unit, 85 percent of the fuel consumed by the machine goes to heating your home; the remaining 15 percent is wasted along the way (mostly as exhaust up the chimney).
In 2015, the US government raised the minimum AFUE rating on furnaces from 78 to 80 percent. Gas- and oil-fired boilers have minimum AFUE requirements of 82 and 84 percent, respectively.
One way to think about AFUE is to consider it in terms of dollars: For every dollar you spend on fuel for an 85 AFUE boiler, for example, 85 cents go toward heating your home’s air. In a 95 AFUE gas furnace, that number jumps up to 95 cents – a big difference on your monthly bills, and a big reason why a new furnace or boiler often pays for itself relatively quickly (especially if your unit is old – the 78 AFUE requirement began in 1992).
Of course, AFUE doesn’t tell the whole heating efficiency story – proper furnace sizing, installation and maintenance are also extremely important. But knowing the AFUE rating of your heating equipment is key information when the time comes to invest in new high efficiency heating equipment for your south Jersey home.