In today’s market, there are many options available for furnaces. Trying to choose a Top Furnace Fuel Options that is both affordable and efficient can be overwhelming when navigating the various types and models. The most common furnace fuel sources are either electric, gas, or oil. However, some furnaces also use coal, wood, or propane. Electric furnaces generate heat through coils, while other furnaces use a heat exchanger or chamber. But which option is most efficient?
High-efficiency furnaces reduce fuel use while still providing maximum comfort. If your home has an older furnace, you may want to consider switching to a high-efficiency furnace. These furnaces use at least 30 percent less fuel than older models, which can greatly reduce the cost of energy bills. As natural gas and oil prices rise, the need to cut down on energy costs and consumption becomes more of a priority. Let’s look at the various Furnace Fuel Options and explore their efficiency.
1. Natural Gas and Propane Furnaces
Natural gas is the most common method of heating residential homes. A natural gas furnace is a central heating system that uses air ducts to distribute warm air through registers located throughout the house. These are commonly referred to as ducted systems.
Most newer central heating models use gas because natural gas has a tendency to be more efficient than other fuels. A furnace’s efficiency is rated by how efficiently it converts fuel into heat. This is then converted into a percentage and given an annual fuel-utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating. The higher the percentage, the more heat a furnace obtains from each therm of gas. More efficient furnaces send combustion gas through a second exchanger, making use of otherwise “wasted” gas.
According to Consumer Reports, older gas furnaces from the 1970s are typically rated around 65 percent, while some of the newer models can achieve an efficiency rating of 97 percent. These highly efficient furnaces also generate fewer emissions, reducing the environmental impact.
Propane is the byproduct of oil and gas production. Not all regions have natural gas or oil as a resource for heating, so propane becomes a good alternative Furnace Fuel Options. But what is the difference between a natural gas furnace and a propane furnace? The difference is the gas valve. The two different types of fuel have different pressure ratings, and so they must be dispersed into the furnace burner at different rates. Ensuring the proper rate of dispersant allows the fuel to burn safely and more efficiently.
2. Electric Furnace
Efficiency is not just determined by the different fuel types but also by where you live. Both the climate and the availability of different energy sources play an important part in furnace fuel efficiency with Furnace Fuel Options. While gas furnaces are more efficient in some areas, electric furnaces are more efficient in others.
Electric furnaces are often more affordable than gas furnaces and can last up to 10 years longer. If you have solar panels, this can save you money on heating bills. However, if you do not have solar energy, electric heating can increase your monthly energy bill when compared to the lower energy cost of gas. If you’re uncertain of which fuel type is more efficient for your region, speak with an HVAC technician. They will be familiar with both climate and energy availability and can help you choose the more efficient option.
3. Variable Capacity Heating
Most furnaces operate using single-stage heating or two-stage heating. Single-stage heating means that when the thermostat kicks in, it operates at full capacity until the desired temperature is reached, and then it shuts off. Two-stage heating runs at a lower capacity to maintain heat but will boost to full capacity when you increase the thermostat setting.
Variable-capacity heating works differently than single-stage and two-stage heating, increasing its efficiency. The gas valve does not run at only one or two capacities, but modulates the heat output by adjusting up and down in increments of 1 percent or less. A variable-capacity furnace also modulates the speed.
Since these furnaces run at the lowest capacity to keep your desired temperature, they are the most energy-efficient furnaces. They’re also quieter and have the best air quality of available fuel furnaces; even when the system is not heating, the fan continues to circulate air through the filter.
4. Condensing Furnaces
Heat exchangers are the devices in the furnace that are used to transfer heat between two or more fluids. They transfer heat into the home while isolating toxic exhaust gases. Standard furnaces do not acquire all of the heat formed in the combustion chamber. This heat is then released from your house, along with the unwanted exhaust, “wasting” heat.
A condensing furnace has two heat exchangers. The secondary heat exchanger transfers more heat from combustion gases, using more of the available heat. Non-condensing furnaces AFUE ratings can range from 78 to 84 percent while condensing furnaces can range between 90 and 97 percent. Condensing furnaces lower overall fuel consumption, making them more efficient at delivering heat to your home.
5. Hybrid Furnace
Some furnace units can be used in a dual-fuel system with a heat pump. A hybrid or dual-fuel system utilizes both a furnace and a heat pump. The heat pump uses the furnace for backup heating. When temperatures are below freezing, the gas furnace takes over and can quickly and efficiently heat up the home in freezing weather. When the temperatures are above freezing, the heat pump is the primary source of heating.
Since air-source heat pumps are among the most efficient method of heating your home, this increases the overall efficiency of your furnace. Hybrid systems can also be operated manually so you can heat with whichever energy source is more economical.
If you’re considering updating your old furnace to a high-efficiency furnace, Entek offers high-efficiency, affordable furnaces, including the mobile home gas and electric furnace models. Our services also include regular cleaning and repairs, which will make sure your furnace continues to run at optimal efficiency.