HVAC technician performing furnace service

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

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

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

These revised standards are anticipated to:

  • Save Americans $1.9 billion annually.
  • Lower carbon emissions by 373 million metric tons and methane emissions by 5.1 million tons over the next 25 - 30 years, the equivalent of what 61 million homes emit each year.

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

Considering these guidelines, you might be asking yourself what does that mean for my existing furnace? For the time being, very little, as the proposed rule wouldn’t go into effect until 2029 at the earliest and will not affect furnaces that are already in use.

But if your furnace is nearing the end of its life and a replacement is needed in soon, highly energy-efficient furnaces are already available. Learn how these furnaces can lower your monthly energy bills.

Guide to Condensing Furnaces

How Condensing Furnaces Work

A condensing furnace is a type of heating system that uses a secondary heat exchanger to capture wasted heat from the furnace's exhaust gases. This reduces the amount of energy wasted, increases energy efficiency and lowers carbon-monoxide emissions. It also demands less natural gas to produce the same rate of heat when comparing one to other types of furnaces.

How Condensing Furnaces Differ from Non-Condensing Furnaces

The main difference between a condensing furnace and a non-condensing furnace is that the former uses a secondary heat exchanger to capture any wasted heat from its exhaust gases, while the other does not.

Expected Longevity of a Condensing Furnace

The life span of a condensing furnace depends on the brand, model and other factors. Generally speaking, a condensing furnace should last between 10-20 years with proper maintenance and regular service. If you put off scheduled maintenance, the unit may not last as long.

Why Condensing Furnaces Require a Higher Investment

For the most part, condensing furnaces enhanced precision is significantly more efficient than standard, single-speed furnaces, as it only utilizes the minimum amount of energy required to heat your home, resulting in more savings on your utility bill.

Most variable-speed furnaces are condensing furnaces, although a handful are available in non-condensing models with lower AFUE ratings. In order for a furnace to be classified as a condensing furnace, it must offer an AFUE rating of 90% or higher.

Do Variable-Speed Furnaces Run Nonstop?

A variable-speed furnace doesn’t run all the time. Alternatively, it runs at different speeds depending on the temperature in your Sacramento home as well as the amount of energy it requires to maintain that temperature.

When sufficient energy is required to maintain your desired temperature level, the furnace will switch to a higher speed to manage the higher demand. Doing this will ensure more efficient heating in your home while also offering 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 operates at a reduced capacity to help maintain the desired temperature at your home more efficiently. During the high stage, the furnace will instead run at maximum capacity to meet demands for more heat. With a two-stage furnace, you can experience improved energy efficiency and stable temperatures all across your home.

While two-stage furnaces are highly efficient, not all all models are condensing furnaces.

Does a Two-Stage Furnace Operate All the Time?

A two-stage furnace won’t run all the time. In the low stage of operation, the furnace performs at reduced capacity in order to retain a desired temperature more efficiently within your home. When a greater demand for energy is needed to sustain the set temperature, the unit switches to its high stage and operates at full capacity. As a result, two-stage furnaces are able to help reduce energy costs without operating around the clock.

Differences Between Two-Stage and Variable-Speed Furnaces

Two-stage furnaces have two stages of operation, low and high. During the low stage, the furnace runs at reduced capacity in order to sustain a desired temperature within your home. When additional warmth or cooling is necessary, the furnace will change over to its high stage and operate at maximum capacity.

Variable-speed furnaces, meanwhile, can function at multiple 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. This translates to higher energy bills because the furnace runs constantly in order to maintain a desired level of comfort at home.

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

Make Your Furnace Installation Appointment with Bishop’s HVAC Today

Modern furnace technology can be confusing. That’s why Bishop’s HVAC experts are here to help with a no-obligation, no-pressure quote for furnace installation. We’ll assess your home, your heating requirements and your budget before helping you find the ideal solution. Get in touch with us at 916-591-6889 to get started today!