The average American family spends thousands of dollars on heating and cooling expenses. One way to possibly lower this bill is to make sure your heat works efficiently. An efficient heater uses less energy, warms your home well, and costs less to operate. But how can you determine your heater’s efficiency level? Here are three ways to find the information you need.
1. Track Your Energy Bills
Unless you have balanced billing, your energy bills are likely to fluctuate. Situations such as the seasons, energy costs, and your living conditions can affect your bill. But if you notice a huge upwards spike during the cold months, that could mean your heater isn’t operating properly. You can also compare your current bills to those you had during the same time a year ago. If you’re paying much more than last year, then you might want to get your heat checked.
Outside influences can also affect your heating costs. So in addition to checking your system, consider checking your home as well. For instance, does your home need better insulation? Are your windows drafty? Do your doors need weather-stripping? Keeping cool air out can also improve your heater’s efficiency.
2. Learn Your Annual Fuel Utilization Rating
Your heater’s annual fuel utilization rating (AFUE) alerts you to the heater’s efficiency. This rating measures how well your system uses fuel to create energy. A high AFUE indicates an efficient heater. For example, a rating of 98 percent means only 2 percent of energy is lost. And a rating of 40 percent means that 60 percent of the energy is lost. That’s a huge waste of energy and money.
Furnaces and boilers made after 2015 must display an AFUE rating. This allows you to compare units to see which ones are the most efficient. You’ll find the rating in the owner’s manual or located somewhere on the unit. Another option is to call the manufacturer, provide your model number, and ask about its AFUE rating. A rating of 80 percent is acceptable for most climates within the US. But you can go higher or lower, depending upon your needs.
3. Consider Replacing an Older Unit
Sometimes it’s not possible to get a heater’s AFUE rating. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need a new unit. But if your heater is more than 20-years old, it’s efficiency is probably not the best. Even a heater with a high AFUE rating will drastically decline without good maintenance. When you factor in continued use and wear and tear, you can see why an old heater might not perform efficiently. A new heater is possibly your best option for the best efficiency and lowest heating bills.
Maintaining or Replacing Your Heater
A well-maintained heater is the key to efficiency. You can possibly prolong the life of your heater by taking good care of it. But if you’re in need of a new furnace or boiler, remember to consider it’s AFUE rating. The higher the rating, the more efficient the system.
Charlie Teschner started MESA Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling in 1982. Charlie has a journeyman and master plumber’s license. He was raised with a strong work ethic and he now applies those values to tasks such as Longmont, CO heating repair.