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What You Didn’t Know About the Efficiency of Electric Furnaces

money-saving-chimneyEfficiency. It’s one of the big buzzwords of the 21st century. When people shop for home appliances, they look for efficient devices that can lower energy demands and help the environment. Efficiency ratings can create confusion for homeowners, however, and one good example is with furnaces. 

Furnaces are the most common type of heating system found in residential buildings, and they account for an enormous amount of either natural gas or electricity consumption during a year. The right high-efficiency furnace can make a huge difference in utility bills. Unfortunately, when it comes to electric furnace efficiency, people unfamiliar with how efficiency ratings work can make assumptions about how much energy the furnace could potentially save. We’ll clear up this misunderstanding to help you look for the right electric furnace for your household.

The AFUE Rating for Furnaces

The efficiency of furnaces is measured as AFUE, annual fuel utilization efficiency. AFUE is expressed as a percentage. This percentage is the amount of energy the furnace converts directly into heating power. For example, older gas furnaces had AFUE ratings from 70 to 80%, which means that for every 100 units of energy (natural gas in this case), the furnace would convert 70 to 80 units into heating power sent into the home and lose 20 to 30 units to exhaust. Modern furnaces have far higher efficiency, and special high-efficiency gas furnaces can have AFUE of 95% or above. 

The AFUE Rating of Electric Furnaces

What AFUE can you expect from an electric furnace? You likely know that electric furnaces cost more to run on average than gas furnaces, so you’d expect a lower efficiency. Yet the reverse is true: all electric furnaces have 100% AFUE.

Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Why wouldn’t everyone want an electric furnace with that kind of AFUE? No energy waste at all!

This doesn’t tell the true story. The reason electric furnaces all have 100% AFUE is because of the way they work. Electric furnaces generate heat by sending electricity through heating elements. All the electric power turns into heat because there is no exhaust from a combustion process. The heating is direct. When you see an AFUE rating of 100% on an electric furnace, all it’s really telling you is Yes, this is an electric furnace.

Why Electric Furnaces Cost More to Run

With such high efficiency, why do electric furnaces cost more to operate than gas furnaces in general? The answer is that electricity is now a costlier energy source than natural gas. This is one reason many people want natural gas for their homes, and why we recommend installing a gas furnace if your home is equipped with a natural gas connection.

Still, if you have an all-electric home, an electric furnace is still a good option. Electric furnaces can produce more heating than before, so although you’ll likely pay more compared to a gas furnace, it won’t be a bank-breaking situation. Make sure you work with our professionals when you arrange for an electric furnace installation. We’ll see that you have a unit that meets your comfort needs and budget requirements.

First Choice Heating & Cooling serves Fenton, Linden, Holly, and the surrounding areas. If your home had a voice … it would call First Choice.

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