Where you aware that more than one-half of your home’s energy costs are needed for your heating and cooling? That’s why it’s critical to have an energy-efficient HVAC system.

Furnace efficiency standards were last modified to an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating of 80% in 2015. This rating system calculates how effective your furnace is at natural gas into heat. An AFUE rating of 80% means your furnace loses about 20% of the fuel it uses while producing heat.

In 2022, the Biden Administration revealed new energy-efficiency standards for residential gas furnaces that would substantially lower emissions, save customers money and promote sustainability.

The updated standards are expected to:

  • Save Americans $1.9 billion annually.
  • Cut carbon emissions by 373 million metric tons and methane emissions by 5.1 million tons over three decades, the equivalent of what 61 million homes emit each year.

Starting in 2029, the updated rule would demand all new gas furnaces to feature AFUE ratings of 95%. This means furnaces would combust nearly 100% of the gas into usable heat.

With these facts in mind, you may be asking yourself "what happens to my existing furnace"? For the time being, not much, as the proposed rule wouldn’t go into effect until 2029 at the earliest and doesn’t affect furnaces that are already in use.

But if you need furnace replacement in soon, highly energy-efficient furnaces are now available. Learn how these furnaces can save you money on your utility bills.

Guide to Condensing Furnaces

How Condensing Furnaces Work

A condensing furnace is a kind of heating system that uses a secondary heat exchanger to collect wasted heat from the furnace's exhaust gases. This limits the quantity of energy wasted, enhances energy efficiency and lowers CO2 emissions. It also requires less natural gas to generate the same amount of heat in comparison to other types of furnaces.

How Condensing Furnaces Differ from Non-Condensing Furnaces

The biggest difference between a condensing furnace and a non-condensing furnace is condensing models use a secondary heat exchanger to capture any wasted heat from its exhaust gases, while the latter does not.

Expected Longevity of a Condensing Furnace

The life span of a condensing furnace will depend on the brand, model and other factors. In most cases, a condensing furnace should last between 10-20 years with sufficient maintenance and regular service. If your heating system doesn’t have regular furnace maintenance, it may have a significantly shorter life span.

Why Condensing Furnaces Require a Higher Investment

Usually, condensing furnaces are more require a large upfront cost than non-condensing furnaces. This is partially for their increased efficiency and the extra components necessary to capture any wasted heat from its exhaust gases. However, the added energy savings can help recoup the price of purchase. So ultimately, it may be worth investing in a condensing furnace.

Guide to Variable-Speed Furnaces

Variable-Speed Furnaces: What You Need to Know

A variable-speed furnace can fine-tune its fan speed to minimize the energy necessary to satisfy the heating preferences of your home. It runs at a slower speed until it notices a drop in temperature and then speeds up to generate more heat. This [precise fan is a lot more efficient than standard, single-speed furnaces, as it only uses the minimum amount of energy needed to heat your home, which  subsequently saves money on your utility bills.

The majority of variable-speed furnaces are condensing furnaces, although a few are available in non-condensing models with lower AFUE ratings. If a manufacturer wants a furnace to be classified as a condensing furnace, it must offer an AFUE rating of 90% or higher.

Do Variable-Speed Furnaces Run Constantly?

A variable-speed furnace doesn’t operate all the time. Instead, it runs at different speeds based on the temperature in your Frederick home as well as the amount of energy it uses to reach that temperature.

When sufficient energy is demanded to maintain your desired temperature level, the furnace will switch to a higher speed in order to keep up with demand. This allows for more efficient heating in your home while also providing quieter operation.

Guide to Two-Stage Furnaces

Two-Stage Furnaces: What They Are and How They Work

As the name suggests, a furnace with two levels of operating (high or low) is called a two-stage furnace. On the low stage, the furnace performs at a reduced capacity to help maintain the preferred temperature in your home more efficiently. During the high stage, the furnace will instead operate at full capacity to satisfy demands for increased heat. With a two-stage furnace, you can maintain greater energy efficiency and steady temperatures throughout your home.

While two-stage furnaces are extremely efficient, not all all types are condensing furnaces.

Does a Two-Stage Furnace Run All the Time?

A two-stage furnace does not stay on indefinitely. In the low stage of operation, the furnace performs at diminished capacity in order to retain a preferred temperature more efficiently within your home. When additional energy is needed to sustain the set temperature, the heating system will switch to its high stage and runs at full capacity. As such, two-stage furnaces are proven to help reduce energy costs without operating constantly.

Contrasting Two-Stage and Variable-Speed Furnaces

Two-stage furnaces have two stages of operation, low and high. During the low stage, the furnace performs at reduced capacity as a way to maintain a desired level of comfort within your home. When additional warmth or cooling is needed, the furnace will switch to its high stage and operate at full capacity.

Variable-speed furnaces, meanwhile, can operate at several speeds in order to maintain a more precise temperature at home. With more options for temperature settings, you also have more flexibility for heating you home and can enjoy greater savings on energy bills.

Differences Between One- and Two-Stage Furnaces

One-stage furnaces have a single stage of operation and operate either at full capacity or not at all. Consequently, the furnace runs constantly in order to maintain a desired level of comfort within your home.

Conversely, two-stage furnaces have two stages of operation, low and high. While in the low stage, the furnace runs at lower capacity in order to maintain the desired temperature more efficiently. When more warmth or cooling is necessary, the furnace will change over to its high stage and operate at maximum capacity.

Make Your Furnace Installation Appointment with May's Heating & Air Today

Modern furnace technology can be confusing. That’s why May's Heating & Air specialists are here to help with a free, no-pressure estimate for furnace installation. We’ll assess your home, your heating needs and your budget before helping you find the best solution. Contact us at 301-690-0397 to get started today!