Energy-Efficient Furnaces: How to Get One & Make it More Efficient

We are all trying our best to make the world greener. Going green can also be rewarding for your wallet. Energy-efficient and eco-friendly appliances can save thousands of dollars on electricity bills and help save the environment.

Furnaces are popular for keeping our houses warm, but traditional residential furnaces can do more harm than good. Traditional furnaces can release carbon monoxide and ruin indoor air quality. A deteriorating furnace can release this odorless, toxic gas in your house and pose a real threat to your health and safety. Old furnaces are also expensive to repair and maintain.

For your and your family’s sake, it is better to switch to an eco-friendly and energy-efficient furnace right away.

Things to Look for in an Energy-Efficient Furnace

Eco-friendly furnaces are getting popular every day and have a variety of features. Consider the following things when purchasing an efficient furnace.

1. Understand the Term “Energy Efficient”

Energy efficiency is a common buzzword marketers like to throw around to get attention. Not all brands go into detail explaining what they mean. There are energy-efficient air conditioners, lights, fans, and several other appliances. Yes, they all save money on bills, but what does the term actually mean?

For furnaces, it means how much fuel is successfully converted into energy. The rate is called AFUE, or annual fuel utilization efficiency. Furnaces that are certified by Energy Star have a rate of 95 percent or up. The certified ones have a yellow label where their AFUE scores are printed. Their certification is reliable, and your energy-efficient furnace should have a similar rating.

2. Electric Furnaces

Oil and gas models are old and require frequent maintenance. Electric furnaces are simply better. They may not give that rustic, traditional feeling but are much better for you and the environment. Electric models also have a very high AFUE since they do not require fuel and have very low energy loss.

Electric furnaces use electrical heating systems to increase the indoor temperature. They work similarly to hair dryers. The air gets sucked in through a heat exchanger and is heated by electrically charged wires. A blower then pushes out the air through the ductwork into your home.

Electric furnaces have a wide range of features and require less maintenance. But you do need to check its control board to make sure it’s working.

You can check out this article at to know more about furnace control boards.

3. Condensed Heating Furnaces

Condensed heating furnaces have a secondary heat exchanger that extracts waste heat by condensing the exhaust gas. If you install a plastic pipe through the sidewall and attach it to the furnace, the exhaust gas can safely exit your home.

These furnaces are highly efficient and can maximize energy. Some of the latest models even have an energy efficiency rating of 98 percent.

Condensed furnaces have sealed chambers and are designed to prevent any gas leaks, making them safer to use. They can also last anywhere from fifteen to thirty years depending on how you treat them. However, the furnace needs professional installation and routine maintenance.

4. Check Out the Fan

An inefficient fan or an older model fan can quickly drain energy and ruin the efficiency of your furnace. Alternating current (AC) motors are not reliable or efficient enough. Check for fans that have electronically commutated motors or are run by direct current (DC).

5. Look for a Multi-Stage Burner Feature

A multi-stage or two-stage burner will make your furnace more energy-efficient. Most modern furnaces have this handy feature, and here is why it is so important:

  • It has variable speed control that can control the airflow by moving at different speeds.
  • It can minimize energy costs by working on lower power in moderate weather.
  • When the desired temperature is reached, it can go back to lower power mode.
  • The burn rate can be adjusted depending on your house’s space.

A multi-stage burner allows better control without comprising heat and comfort.

How to Make Your Furnace More Efficient

Here are some effective ways to make your furnace even more efficient:

1. Consider the Available Space

Just like air conditioners, bigger furnaces are not necessarily better. The size of your furnace depends on the square footage of the room you are going to install it in. If the furnace is too big or too small, it will be inefficient.

An HVAC professional can measure your room and give you advice on which model and size you could buy.

2. Add a Smart Thermostat

Thermostats themselves are going to consume a bit of energy, but that is minuscule compared to the efficiency it will provide to your overall heating plan.

Programmable thermostats can be programmed to save energy. You can set your preferred temperature in advance so that the rooms do not get heated unnecessarily in advance when you are not at home.

3. Make Your Furnace Leak-Proof

Even the most energy-efficient furnaces end up leaking if they are not properly maintained. You can use some DIY skills to seal the gaps and make your furnace leak-proof.

You can use caulk to seal tiny gaps. If there is any gap near the heat-exchanger, use a heat-resistant caulk. You can cover larger gaps with sealant foams. Spray it on top of the crack or hole and let it dry. Use a knife to cut the excess sealant and smoothen it out.

You can also use aluminum foil duct tape. Turn off the furnace, tape over the crack, and press firmly.

4. Never Miss a Maintenance Check

Furnaces do not need weekly or monthly maintenance, but they do need to be checked once a year. Call a professional for a thorough check-up, and even if there is nothing wrong, ask them to clean the ductworks, fans, filters, burners, and other components related to efficiency.

Final Thoughts

Pricing a furnace is difficult. Usually, the installation costs are not included in the initial price. For a high-rated efficient model, you will have to spend about $3000 to $5000. If you live in cold-climate areas, you will need the highest efficiency-rated furnaces. For mild-climate areas, the highest-rated ones are just going to be overkill. Consider all these factors and contact an HVAC professional to purchase the right furnace for your home.

Diego Martinez

Diego Martinez, with a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, has been a leading figure in maintenance and facilities management for 16 years. He joined our editorial team in 2020, sharing his expertise in preventative maintenance, system optimization, and energy efficiency. Diego’s previous roles include engineering manager in manufacturing and consulting for facility management. He has provided practical advice and problem-solving strategies for maintenance issues. He is an enthusiastic cyclist and volunteers in community tech education programs.

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