What Impact Will New Furnace Efficiency Standard Have in 2023 and Beyond

March 02, 2023

Did you know more than 50 percent of your home’s energy costs are linked to heating and cooling? This is why it’s essential to have an energy-efficient HVAC system.

Furnace efficiency standards were last modified to 80 AFUE in 2015. AFUE, or annualized fuel utilization efficiency, calculates how effective your furnace is at turning natural gas into heat. An 80 AFUE rating means your furnace will lose about 20% of the fuel it uses while producing heat.

In 2022, the Biden Administration offered new energy-efficiency standards for residential gas furnaces that would significantly reduce emissions, save homeowners money and encourage sustainability.

This solution is expected to:

  • Save Americans $1.9 billion annually.
  • Lower carbon emissions by 373 million metric tons and methane emissions by 5.1 million tons over 30 years, the equivalent of what 61 million homes emit each year.

Starting in 2029, the recommended rule would mandate all new gas furnaces to be 95 AFUE. This means furnaces would transform nearly all the gas they use into heat.

Considering these guidelines, you might be asking yourself what does that mean for my existing furnace? For the time being, not much, as the proposed rule won't go into effect until 2029 at the earliest and will not affect furnaces that are already in use.

But if you’re going to be needing furnace replacement in Pella soon, highly energy-efficient furnaces are ready and available. Learn how these furnaces can help you save on energy bills now.

Guide to Condensing Furnaces

How Condensing Furnaces Work

A condensing furnace is a type of heating system that uses a secondary heat exchanger to trap wasted heat from the furnace's exhaust gases. This curbs the volume of energy wasted, improves energy efficiency and lowers CO2 emissions. It also demands less natural gas to create the same rate of heat compared to other types of furnaces.

How Condensing Furnaces Differ from Non-Condensing Furnaces

The biggest difference between a condensing furnace and a non-condensing furnace is the condensing option's use of a secondary heat exchanger to collect any wasted heat from its exhaust gases, while the latter does not.

Equipment Lifespan

The life span of a condensing furnace will depend on the brand, model and other factors. In most cases, a condensing furnace should last between 10-20 years with sufficient maintenance and regular service. If your heating system doesn’t have regular furnace maintenance, the equipment may struggle with performance and ultimately fail earlier than anticipated.

Why Condensing Furnaces Are More Expensive

Typically, condensing furnaces are more pricey than non-condensing furnaces. This is due to their increased efficiency and the extra parts necessary to capture any wasted heat from its exhaust gases. The added energy savings can often counterbalance the price of purchase, however, so over time, it may be worth investing in a condensing furnace.

Guide to Variable-Speed Furnaces

Variable-Speed Furnaces: The What's and How's

A variable-speed furnace can adjust its fan speed subject to the heating requirements of your [[location]] home. It runs at a slower speed until there's a temperature decrease and then fires up to provide more heat. This type of system is much more efficient than conventional furnaces, as it only uses the amount of energy necessary to heat your home, and thus, saves you money on your utility bill.

The majority of variable-speed furnaces are condensing furnaces, although a handful of are available in non-condensing models with lower AFUE ratings. To allow a furnace to be classified as a condensing furnace, it must be 90 AFUE or higher.

Do Variable-Speed Furnaces Run Constantly?

A variable-speed furnace doesn’t run all the time. Instead, it runs at different speeds based on the temperature in your [[location]] home and the amount of energy it requires to sustain that temperature.

When too much energy is necessary to maintain your preferred temperature level, the furnace will shift up to a higher speed to manage that demand. This allows for more efficient heating and cooling in your home while also providing quieter operation.

Guide to Two-Stage Furnaces

Two-Stage Furnaces: What They Are and How They Work

A heating system with two settings of operating - high and low - is called a two-stage furnace. On the low stage, the furnace runs at a reduced capacity as a way to maintain a chosen temperature inside your home more efficiently. During the high stage, the furnace will run full throttle to meet demands for greater warmth or cooling. With a two-stage furnace, you can achieve improved energy efficiency and steady temperatures throughout your home.

While two-stage furnaces are extremely efficient, not all models are condensing furnaces.

Does a Two-Stage Furnace Operate All the Time?

A two-stage furnace won’t run all the time. In the low stage of operation, the furnace operates at reduced capacity in order to sustain a desired temperature more efficiently within your home. When additional warmth or cooling is needed, the unit will switch to its high stage and operate at full capacity. Because of this, two-stage furnaces are able to help reduce energy costs as it is not operating constantly.

Comparing Two-Stage and Variable-Speed Furnaces

Two-stage furnaces have two stages of operation, low and high. During the low stage, the furnace works at reduced capacity to help maintain a desired level of comfort within your home. When a greater demand for warmth or cooling is desired, the furnace will change over to its high stage and operate at maximum capacity.

Variable-speed furnaces can run at several speeds in order to maintain a desired temperature more accurately within your home. As such, variable-speed furnaces offer greater savings on your utility bills, because it has more options in terms of functionality.

Differences Between One- and Two-Stage Furnaces

One-stage furnaces have a single stage of performance and operate either at full power or not at all. This translates to higher energy bills because the furnace will run constantly in order to maintain a desired temperature within your home.

Conversely, two-stage furnaces have two stages of operation, low and high. During the low stage, the furnace runs at reduced capacity in order to maintain a desired temperature more efficiently within your home. When additional warmth or cooling is desired, the furnace will switch to its high stage and operate at maximum capacity.

Set Your Furnace Installation Appointment with Van Haaften Plumbing & Heating Today

Making sense of all the modern furnace technology can be confusing. That’s why our Van Haaften Plumbing & Heating experts are here to help with a complimentary, no-pressure estimate for furnace installation. We’ll assess your home, your heating specifications and your budget, and then we’ll help you find the best solution. Contact us at 641-628-3621 to get started today!