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AFUE? Can I Get That in English, Please?

Date: February 21, 2022

Explaining a Critical Efficiency Measurement for Home HVAC Equipment

afue rating massachusettsReplacing your home’s boiler or furnace can be a daunting task. If you don’t know all the lingo and acronyms, it might feel like you’re trying to do business in another language.

Even so, you need to get up to speed quickly before upgrading your heating system. It’s an expensive purchase, and more importantly, your family’s comfort depends on it. The expert service technicians at Cubby Oil & Energy know a thing or two about installing HVAC equipment, so we can help you speak the language.

For example, one of the most important terms you’ll see is AFUE. Let’s take you through what that acronym stands for and what it means to you.

What does AFUE mean?

First things first—the acronym AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. It’s a measurement of how efficient a boiler or furnace is. Like miles-per-gallon for a car, it shows how much energy you get for your fuel.

How do I interpret an AFUE rating?

Think of the AFUE number as a percentage of the fuel that actually heats your home versus the percentage that you lose, usually as exhaust going out your chimney.

If you’re looking at new furnaces, a unit with an 85 AFUE rating converts 85% of your fuel into usable heat. The other 15% is wasted. The higher the AFUE rating, the more energy-efficient the equipment is.
The U.S. Department of Energy sets minimum AFUE ratings for new equipment. The last time they increased the minimum was in 2015 when it went up 80 AFUE for furnaces, 82 AFUE for gas-fired boilers and 84 AFUE for oil-fired boilers.

How much money can I save with a higher AFUE?

If you think about AFUE in terms of cash, the benefits become evident quickly.

With an 80 AFUE furnace – the current Energy Department minimum – you get 80 cents of heat for every dollar spent on fuel. Twenty cents goes in the trash. If you upgrade to a 95 AFUE, you only lose a nickel for each dollar of fuel.

Higher-AFUE units cost more, but they generally pay off the initial investment fast. Suppose you’re replacing a boiler or furnace made before 1992 (the last time before 2015 that government minimums increased) with a modern high-efficiency model. In that case, you could see an instant 20% increase in your heating efficiency. That’s a lot of fuel you won’t need to buy!

There’s more to heating equipment efficiency than one rating, though. If you need help navigating the process of replacing your boiler or furnace, contact us today. We would love to help you find the perfect model for your home and family!

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