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Is a High Efficiency Furnace Worth It?

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Energy efficiency is always top of mind for homeowners, and natural gas furnaces in Calgary are a good place to start if you’re looking to save energy and money in your home. Plus, It’s no secret that Calgarians are feeling the effects of inflation. While the energy industry is faring quite well these days, the economy hasn’t had a similar boom. 

Money is tight, and more and more people are looking for ways to save. Getting a high-efficiency furnace can be an excellent way to keep costs down.

Talk to us to See How Much You Can Save

How Much Money Can I Pocket?

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You can save a great deal of money on your heating bills by buying a 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:

While it will cost money to convert to a new furnace, you will get part of that money back in lower heating costs.

What are High Efficiency Furnaces?

High efficiency furnaces will have an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating of 90% or higher, up to a maximum of 98.5% AFUE. This rating is a measure of how much heat a furnace can use from what it consumes, and is ultimately what determines the energy efficiency of the heating system.

High efficiency gas furnaces will have two heat exchangers instead of one. The primary heat exchanger is where the heat from gas burners is exchanged to the circulatory air. Without a secondary heat exchanger, the exhaust gases from this process would be vented to the outdoors and wasted. A condensing furnace, however, will be able to capture that heat with the secondary heat exchanger, absorbing the exhaust gases and redistributing it through your home. 

Energy efficiency has come a long way in a short amount of time, and a gas furnace that’s even a few years old might be outdated soon enough. A newer, higher efficiency gas furnace is a good investment to make that will save you money in the long run.

Benefits of High Efficiency Furnaces

Energy Efficient

To nobody’s surprise, an energy efficient gas furnace will operate far more efficiently than an older model, with, say, an 80% AFUE. This means that roughly 15% more of the heat that’s produced during the combustion process is being used to heat your home, rather than being lost.

With more heat being used, your energy bill will be lower, because you won’t have to heat your home as long. High efficiency gas furnaces are a great investment for this reason alone, but that isn’t the only benefit.

Longer Lifespan

New condensing furnaces should last you many years, even decades. Not only will a new heating system be free from big problems that’ll cost you, but a good quality furnace will last you around 20 years. 

Environmentally Friendly

A high efficiency condensing furnace not only uses less fuel and energy, but also operates with sealed combustion process. An air-intake pipe brings the combustion air from outside, rather than using the warm air from inside your home. This is more efficient and safer, and helps improve indoor air quality by reducing the chance of backdrafting (having carbon monoxide enter your living space).

Less Costly Repairs 

As any furnace ages, it will require more and more expensive maintenance to keep it running. Your older furnace’s heat exchanger, blower motors, or electronic controls might stop working. With a new, energy efficient furnace, you won’t have to worry about sudden temperature drops inside your home. When installed properly by a certified technician, a new furnace with a better energy efficiency rating will have quieter operation, and use less energy overall.

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

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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 properly installed. 

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 for your furnace installation. 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.

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