If your furnace has broken down or is simply starting to show its age, you may be considering replacing it entirely. When that’s the case, you’ll have the choice between two primary types: standard efficiency and high-efficiency systems. While a high-efficiency system does use less energy, they’re not always the ideal choice if circumstances don’t allow for it. Here are some of the big similarities and differences between these two types so you can make an educated purchasing decision.
What’s the Same?
For starters, what similarities do standard-efficiency systems and high-efficiency systems share? Well first off, both will heat your home, and do it well. Second, both will have a similar life expectancy. A properly-maintained furnace will provide you with reliable heat and comfort for ten to fifteen years or more, depending on how much usage it receives each winter.
Finally, both will be remarkably efficient. It’s a common misconception that standard-efficiency furnaces burn a substantial amount of power—to be sold on the market today, a furnace unit must achieve an 80 percent annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating. In order to achieve the “high-efficiency” status, a unit must achieve an AUFE rating of 95 percent. Either way, your system is going to be remarkably efficient with the energy you supply it, especially when compared to an older unit.
However, there are some key differences as well. Let’s take a closer look at a few of them:
- Variable speed blower: High-efficiency units often feature variable-speed blower motors. This allows you to run your heater at a lower setting to help maintain a more even temperature, rather than having your system turn on and off periodically, which uses far more energy.
- Dual heat exchangers: High-efficiency systems use a system that has two heat exchangers as opposed to just one, which means more of the gas supplied is turned into valuable heat. This means less overall gas usage and lower utility bills while increasing your comfort levels.
- Price: High-efficiency systems tend to be more expensive than a standard-efficiency model. While your exact cost will depend on your home and what type of system you buy, the high-efficiency models can cost quite a bit more, and aren’t always in every homeowner’s budget.
- Exhaust vent: The exhaust vent on a high-efficiency system can be made out of plastic PVC since the exhaust that comes out is usually cool. Standard efficiency systems require a metal exhaust pipe since the exhaust could be hot, which would melt PVC piping.