Does a High Efficiency Gas Furnace Really Save You Money?

If you’re in the market for a new furnace, some of the marketing lingo may be a bit confusing. 

Every major furnace brand will tout efficiency as the number one thing to strive for. What does that mean? Will a high efficiency gas furnace really save you money over time? Or will the cost of the furnace itself be hard to recoup over time?

Those are good questions, ones we receive frequently.  

To answer it, we have to dive deeper into what a high efficiency gas furnace is. 

Starting with your monthly utility bill

Have you noticed your monthly utility bill is creeping upwards every month? Maybe you’re hoping a new furnace will stop the upward movement in its tracks. 

Does a High Efficiency Gas Furnace Really Save You Money?

Spend a few moments understanding your utility bill. Some of your monthly charges are for heating your home. Some are for heating water. And others are for fees and taxes. 

An easy way to find out how much your furnace is costing you to operate is to compare a bill from June to one in December. If December’s runs you $200, and June’s is only $100, you can safely assume your furnace operates at around $100 a month. 

Your furnace isn’t the only thing that operates on natural gas. Other things that impact your utility bill include:

  • Cooking on a gas stove
  • Hot water heaters
  • How much insulation you have in your home
  • How often you use a gas fireplace 
  • What the weather is like – was it a mild or wild season? 

This is often where we recommend an energy audit to determine just how efficient your home is. 

What is the difference between standard and high efficiency?

If you’re looking at furnaces, why would they even put a standard efficiency furnace on the market with high efficiency available?

With a standard efficiency furnace, they use one heat exchanger to create heat and circulate it through the home. Standard efficiency furnaces run at 80 percent efficiency, meaning 80 percent of the heat is being used, while 20 percent is exhausted as waste. 

High efficiency gas furnaces can push that up to as high as 97 percent. They have a secondary heat exchanger that recycles the waste back into another exchanger to heat it and send it out into your home. For a 97 percent high efficiency gas furnace, 97 percent of the heat is used, with only 3 percent being wasted. 

How much will high efficiency gas furnaces save?

It depends on two factors: How much you spend on the equipment itself, and how much you save each month on the utility bill. 

Investing in higher efficiency equipment might cost hundreds or even thousands more than standard equipment. If your utility bills will only be impacted by a small amount, it may take years to recoup the difference. You’ll only be using your furnace 6 to 8 months of the year, so you’ll need to factor that into your calculations too. 

No matter what equipment you select, proper maintenance, including changing the air filter regularly, will ensure your furnace is performing as well as it can. It may be more beneficial to increase insulation and stick with a lower efficiency furnace, which overall can make a bigger impact. 

Want more information? Why not start with an energy audit. We can help you determine the right modifications to your home for the biggest impact overall. 

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