What is the difference between high efficiency and standard efficiency furnaces?

Standard-efficiency furnaces convert roughly 80% of the energy from gas into heat.  High-efficiency furnaces convert 90-97% (depending on the model) of the energy from gas into heat.  So basically: high-efficiency furnaces use less fuel.

So . . . they’re environmentally-friendly?

Yes, but that’s only one benefit.  High-efficiency means lower utility bills, not just nickels and dimes either; the savings can be hundreds of dollars a year, especially if you use propane to heat your home.  Many high-efficiency models also have advanced motors that use less electricity and are extremely quiet.

High-efficiency furnaces cost a lot more though, right?

Well, yes and no.  The initial price of the furnace is more, but there are a number of federal tax credits, instant rebates, and local incentives that can lower the price substantially — anywhere from 600 dollars all the way up to 2900 dollars.

Wait, 2900 hundred dollars?  That can’t be right.

We just double checked our numbers, and we really do have high-efficiency furnaces that get 2900 dollars off the price.  No kidding.

So getting a high-efficiency unit seems like the obvious choice, why doesn’t everybody do it?

Well, there is one little speed-bump on the road to high-efficiency: the issue of installation.  High-efficiency furnaces have two CPVC vent pipes, whereas older, less efficient furnaces only have one steel exhaust pipe.  The two pipe system is safer, and quickly replacing the single-vent models, but running the pipes can sometimes involve minor construction, especially if they have to extend a long distance to reach outside the home.

Additionally, high-efficiency models condense, meaning they have a built-in system to remove moisture that forms inside the heat exchanger.  This system extends the life of the equipment, however it also necessitates a drain line be installed.  Neither of these details are ever serious issues, but they do increase the cost of installation slightly.

High-efficiency furnaces are an investment, they cost more up front but pay for themselves over time by saving you money.  Not everybody is looking for an investment, especially if they’re on a tight budget, and for a quick, simple, and extremely affordable solution, standard-efficiency is a great way to go.


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