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How Do I Judge the Efficiency of a Heating System?

If you need to install a new heating system, either now or in the imminent future, one of the most important things you need to assess before installation is the efficiency of the system(s) you are reviewing. The major types of heating systems – furnaces, boilers and heat pumps – come with an assessment you can easily see right on the packaging. However, if you don’t understand what the given rating is telling you, it won’t be of much help. Here is a basic overview of what efficiency ratings you will see on these kinds of systems.

Furnaces and Boilers Use AFUE

When you take a look at a furnace or boiler, you’ll see clearly that it has an AFUE rating. AFUE stands for annual fuel utilization efficiency and this number tells you, in a percentage, just how efficient a particular furnace or heater will be. All heaters must have a minimum AFUE rating of 78%, but today’s heaters can be much higher, with heaters like electric furnaces reaching 100% AFUE. Why the differences? What AFUE tells you is how much energy is lost to combustion byproducts that are expelled through the heater’s flue; an electric furnace produces no combustion byproducts because it doesn’t heat via combustion. For instance, if you are reviewing a boiler with an AFUE of 93%, this tells you that the vast majority of the fuel your heater needs will be converted into useful energy – only 7% will be lost to combustion byproducts. This is very important to know when calculating annual heating costs for your household.

Heat Pumps Use HSPF Ratings

Heat pump energy ratings are a little different from AFUE because heat pumps don’t generate heat – they transfer heat from one location to another. They also don’t use any fossil fuels. The efficiency rating system for a heat pump is HSPF, which stands for heating seasonal performance factor. The HSPF scale runs from 1 to 10, but all heat pumps need to achieve a minimum HSPF of 7.7. What the HSPF rating tells you is the number of BTUs (British thermal units) of heat that the heat pump system moves for every watt-hour of electrical energy used. For those looking to be highly efficient, you’ll want to look at heat pumps that range between 8 and 10 with the HSPF rating.

If you need help determining how efficient a particular heating system will be in your home in Pittsburgh, PA, call the pros from Boehmer Heating & Cooling today!

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