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How a High Efficiency Furnace Gets Such Great “Mileage”

green-houseEfficiency is one of the big words in today’s consumer products. People are always looking for appliances and vehicles and other devices with improved energy efficiency. Government labels like ENERGY STAR make it easier than ever for customers to find appliances that meet the standards for efficient operation.

Because a large amount of the energy consumed in your house during the winter goes to your gas furnace, finding one with a high efficiency rating can mean a significant difference in your utility bills. Older furnaces have AFUE ratings between 60% and 80% (meaning they lose about 20% to 40% of their fuel source to exhaust). New special efficiency furnaces have AFUE ratings of more than 90%. These high-efficiency furnaces cost more than mid-efficiency models, but they often pay for themselves in a few years.

The Features That Go Into High Efficiency

What technological marvels allow high efficiency furnaces to convert so much of their natural gas fuel directly into heat? We could just say, “They build ‘em better these days!” but that doesn’t explain it all. Below are the features found on most high-efficiency furnaces (although not all will have the same set):

  • Electronic ignition: The standing pilot light has been snuffed out! Instead of letting energy go to waste on a pilot light when the furnace isn’t running, an electronic igniter now takes care of lighting the burners.
  • Variable speed blower: The blower fan in the air handler sends air through the furnace to receive heat and then into the ventilation system. A standard blower runs at a single speed. But a variable speed blower can ramp down to work at lower capacities and help save power, and it does so automatically. On most days, the blower will run at lower capacity 60% of the time.
  • Multi-stage burners: This is similar to the variable speed blower—except it applies to the burners. Rather than run at an all-or-nothing single power, the burners can scale back to use less energy when the house doesn’t need as much heating. In fact, most of the time, the burners will run at lower power.
  • Condensing furnace tech: When you hear a furnace described as a condensing furnace, it means it has a second heat exchanger. The exhaust gas from the first heat exchanger moves to this second one, where the exhaust is condensed to release even more heat. You’re getting more heat from the fuel than a standard furnace can supply.
  • Sealed combustion: With a mid-efficiency furnace, you can look inside it and see the flames from the burners. This is atmospheric combustion—the burners draw the air they need from the space around the furnace. A sealed combustion furnace, however, seals off the burners from the house and instead draws air through a PVC pipe to the outside. These furnaces lose less heat energy, and they’re also safer and help to prevent indoor air from becoming too dry in winter.

To find out more about the best in high-efficiency furnaces, or to schedule any furnace repair in Cherry Hill, NJ you need to stay warm, call our team.

Gibson Heating & Cooling serves the greater Cherry Hill, NJ area. Schedule a new furnace installation with us to prepare for winter.

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