If you live in Calgary, you’ll know that the economy has had a really bad downturn — the worst in 30 years. This is due in large part to oil prices being at an all time low. Thankfully, the Alberta economy is expected to turn around, but you may still be looking for ways to save money on heating.
You should also bear in mind that natural gas prices – also at a historical low – could go up.
Whatever the reason, more and more people are looking for ways to save money. Getting a high-efficiency furnace can be an excellent way to keep costs down.
How Much Money Can I Pocket?
You can save a great deal of money on your heating bills by upgrading to new furnace. This is particularly true if you have a larger home to heat. The larger the house, the more money you can save by using less heat.
As for definite savings, consider the following:
- Some estimates suggest that, with a high-efficiency furnace, you can reduce your home gas bill by up to 35 to 45 percent. Also take future gas prices into account. If gas prices skyrocket, you’ll save even more throughout the life of your new furnace.
- Newer furnaces are more energy efficient than they were even 15 years ago. An Energy Star certified furnace can be 15 percent more efficient that one you bought back then. How much you save, though, depends on how efficient your old furnace was versus how efficient the new one is.
While it will cost money to convert to a new furnace, you will get part of that money back in lower heating costs.
Other Benefits to High Efficiency Furnaces
The other benefit beyond saving money is peace of mind. That new furnace will be way more reliable. No more worries about your furnace going kaput during a long winter.
New furnaces are also much quieter, so you can enjoy your home more. It’s also good to know that you’re helping the environment by using less gas.
How Efficient Is My Current Furnace?
Look at the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating. You can find this in your furnace manual, and sometimes on a sticker on the furnace itself.
Old furnaces from the 1980s and 1990s typically had an AFUE of 80 percent or less. High-efficiency furnaces have an AFUE of 90 percent or more.
If you have a furnace with an AFUE of 80, that means 20 percent of your heat is being lost. At a 90 AFUE, only 10 percent of your heat goes up the chimney, so to speak.
Some older furnaces from the 1970s or 1980s had an AFUE of only 60 to 65 percent. If you have one of those, that’s 35 to 40 cents in gas costs wasted on every dollar spent.
Don’t forget – the AFUE of your furnace is the maximum potential – as furnaces age they usually become even less efficient.
Do the Math
To figure out how much you’ll save, you’ll have to break out the calculator. Don’t worry – it’s not brain surgery to figure out the savings, but you’ll have to work out a few percentages.
First you’ll need to figure out what you’re spending on gas – you can find that on your gas bill.
The average Albertan household uses about 120 gigajoules of natural gas a year. In 2015, the 12-month average fixed rate was $5.12 per gigajoule.
Assuming you only use gas to heat your home, you paid $614.40 in heating if you had the 2015 rate. You derive that figure by multiplying the gigajoules used and the rate per gigajoule.
Assume the AFUE difference is 10 by going from an 80 to a 90 furnace. That’s 10 percent in a heating efficiency increase, which saves you 10 percent in gas money. You’ll therefore save $61.44 a year in gas costs at the 2015 rate we quoted.
But $61 a year doesn’t sound like much, does it? But that’s only until you start adding it up over the years.
The Savings Really Add Up
Multiply your yearly savings by a 10 to 15 year lifespan, and it starts to show value. At the 2007 quoted rate, by upgrading an 80 furnace to a 90, you’ll save $2,000 over 15 years.
If you bought a 95% AFUE furnace and replaced an 80, the energy savings over 15 years total $3,000.
You can do the same type of calculation using your exact gas prices and usage from your bill.
When Gas Costs Were Higher …
Now, let’s go back in time to the year 2007, when times were quite a bit better economy-wise. The 12-month average fixed rate for natural gas was $10.36 per gigajoule. The average Alberta home used 129 gigajoules of energy back then. You would have spent $1,336.44 on your heating bill using these figures. Again, that’s assuming you only use gas to heat your home.
If the AFUE difference between the old and new furnace is 10, you would have saved $133.64 that year. At 2007’s quoted rate, therefore, you would have seen a bigger saving.
Plus, the wider the difference is in the AFUE between the old and new furnaces, the more you’ll save. The 15 percent energy efficiency difference between an 80 AFUE versus a 95 AFUE furnace amounted to $200 in gas savings in 2007.
Confused? These Calculators Can Help
You might not be a math genius, so you might be scratching your head at how to figure out the savings. Don’t. There are online high efficiency furnace cost savings calculators to help.
You can use this calculator to figure out your yearly heating cost savings with a new furnace. This calculator allows you to compare the cost of furnace efficiencies, too.
If you’re braver, this post breaks down how to manually calculate the cost savings by using your latest energy bill. It will help give you the most accurate numbers based on the latest information you have.
Trust the Experts at Knight
When buying a new furnace, the quality of the installation makes a huge difference in the actual level of efficiency you’ll be able to achieve. For one thing, a furnace has to be sized to your home and installed correctly. If not, you’ll waste heat and won’t save as much money – plus your furnace will break down much sooner because it’s always turning on and off. Common installation problems include leaky ducts, improper air volume and wrong-sized equipment.
That’s why you’ll want to turn to Knight to install your new furnace. We have over 45 years of expertise installing furnaces. We carry top-of-the-line brands and offer excellent customer service.
You can find various efficiency levels on the furnaces we do carry. We can tell you what model with be perfect for your house and needs.