The AFUE Rating Is More Than Just a Number — What This Efficiency Rating Means


afue ratingsHomes in most parts of the country require heating during some parts of the year, but the typically harsh winters of New England make a reliable and efficient furnace or boiler a necessity. Record-breaking snowfalls and cold weather that stretches into the middle of spring seem to conspire with the rising cost of home heating fuels to strain the budgets of homeowners. Improving the efficiency of your heating system can result in substantial long-term savings – but it’s important to understand what the AFUE rating means so you can make the best decision for your home.

A common measure of heating system efficiency is annual fuel utilization efficiency, or AFUE. Manufacturers of boilers and furnaces are required by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to display this value on their products to allow consumers to make meaningful comparisons when shopping.

Several factors affect a furnace or boiler’s efficiency rating, including the type of fuel it uses and the location of the unit and ducts. AFUE is a measure of how much of the potential heat energy available in the heater’s fuel is actually used in heating your home, and how much heat goes uselessly into the surrounding environment as waste. For example, a furnace with an AFUE of 85 efficiently uses 85 percent of the fuel to heat your home, while the remaining 15 percent is lost through the chimney.

AFUE isn’t a peak or optimal efficiency measurement when the unit is operating under ideal conditions, but instead it’s an effort to measure actual efficiency over the course of a year of real-life usage, with temperature fluctuations, thermostat adjustments and other variables that heating systems are likely to encounter. It strives to be an accurate indication of the efficiency level you’re likely to experience with the unit during regular use in your home.

For more information about AFUE, or for answers to other HVAC-related questions, contact the experts at Rodenhiser Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning. We proudly serve the HVAC and plumbing needs of homeowners throughout the Route 495/128 area of Massachusetts.

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