A furnace heats air by burning fuel or using electricity, then uses a blower to move the warm air through ducts to different parts of the house. A high-efficiency furnace performs these tasks with as little waste as possible. This guide explains how that efficiency is measured, popular brands of high efficiency furnaces and the associated costs and benefits.
How is furnace efficiency measured?
To better discuss high-efficiency furnaces, we first need to know how to measure efficiency. One particular measure is key in determining the efficiency of heating and cooling systems.
Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE)
AFUE measures how much of the energy the furnace consumes turns into heat. If a furnace turns 80% of the energy it uses into heat, it has an 80% AFUE rating.
Another way to think of AFUE is how much of each dollar you spend to run your furnace goes directly to heating your house. A 95% AFUE furnace uses 95 cents of every dollar to create heat. Mid-efficiency furnaces have an AFUE rating between 80% and 85%, while a high efficiency furnace has a rating over 90%.
High-efficiency furnace brands
With over 120 years of experience, Trane maintains high standards, designing, building and testing its own parts and products to produce some of the best furnaces available.
- $2,255 average cost without installation
- $3,750 with installation
The XC95m is Trane’s most energy-efficient furnace at 97.3% AFUE. The model is compatible with their ComfortLinkTM II communication products and uses a variable-speed blower motor and multi-port, in-shot burners.
The S9V2-VS is Trane’s quietest furnace and offers efficiency ratings up to 97% AFUE. This model pairs a variable-speed blower with a variable-speed draft inducer to minimize sound while still delivering high efficiency.
A leading manufacturer of commercial, industrial and residential HVAC systems, Goodman holds an A rating with the Better Business Bureau, offering long warranty periods on units designed, engineered and assembled in the United States.
- $2,750 average cost without installation
- $3,550 with installation
Offering up to 98% AFUE, this unit provides high efficiency and a strong warranty.
Providing up to 96% AFUE, this unit includes ComfortBridge technology to continuously maintain optimum temperatures in your home.
A pioneer in cooling technology, Carrier has also earned a solid reputation in heating. Carrier focuses on keeping you healthy by keeping the air in your home clean.
- $1,910 average cost without installation
- $4,500 with installation
Infinity 98 Gas Furnace with Greenspeed Intelligence (59MN7)
At 98.5% AFUE, the 59MN7 is Carrier’s most advanced unit. Greenspeed intelligence pairs variable-speed blowers with advanced controls and a unique, modulating gas valve to adapt outputs to your home’s needs. This is the quietest model in Carrier’s lineup at 38.4 decibels.
Performance 96 Gas Furnace (59TP6)
The 59TP6 offers 96.5% AFUE and a slight price reduction from the 59MN7. This model offers ComfortFan technology, pilot-free PowerHeat ignition and QuieTech noise reduction.
Entering the furnace market back in 1895, Lennox is now a major name in heating and cooling.
- $2,230 average cost without installation
- $3,790 with installation
Offering 98.7% AFUE, the SLP98V is Lennox’s quietest and most efficient furnace. Providing AirFlex technology and earning ENERGY STAR recognition, the SLP98V is one of the most advanced furnaces on the market.
While slightly less efficient at 97.5% AFUE, this model produces 65% lower NOx emissions than standard low NOx furnaces, making it excellent for the environment.
Benefits of a high-efficiency furnace
Installing a modern, high-efficiency furnace in your home can do more than just save you money on your utility bills. Assuming you are replacing an older unit with an AFUE rating of 60% to 70%, here are some of the advantages you gain:
- Increasing your AFUE rating to over 95% can save you around 35% on your monthly heating bill.
- Decreasing the consumption of natural gas benefits the environment.
- Modern blowers are quieter than older ones and have variable-speed settings, which can make them quieter by using the slowest speed necessary.
- Electronic controls provide better temperature control with less cycling.
- Many high-efficiency furnaces allow remote and computer-controlled operation.
High-efficiency furnace costs
Assuming you choose a 97% AFUE furnace, here are some estimated savings:
- 38% annual savings upgrading from a 60% AFUE furnace.
- $3,823 saved over five years against U.S. national average heating costs.