80% AFUE vs. 95% AFUE

There are two main differences between the 95% AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) and an 80% AFUE furnace. The obvious is the difference in efficiency, the second being the cost difference.

  1. Efficiency: A 95% AFUE furnace will use 95 cents of every dollar spent on gas as heat in the house and will allow the other 5 cents to trickle out the flue as wasted heat whereas an 80% AFUE furnace will put 80 cents of every dollar spent as heat in the home and 20 cents out the flue. So basically, a 95% AFUE furnace will save you 15 cents on every dollar spent on gas versus the 80% AFUE furnace.
  2. Cost: The 95% AFUE furnace typically will cost about $1,100.00 more than the 80% AFUE furnace. Therefore, you must invest your current dollars to save your future dollars. A payback period can easily be determined if you know how much you are spending yearly on heating your home. A typical yearly heating expense for a typical home using an 80% AFUE furnace will cost about $1,200.00 per year. If you were to replace that unit with a 95% AFUE furnace, you would be saving 15% off your yearly heating expense which in our example would equate to $180.00 per year. Therefore, if a 95% AFUE furnace will cost an additional $1.100.00 but you will save $180.00 per year, that would provide you with about a 6 year payback period.

In most instances, it makes very good sense to have the 95% AFUE furnace installed because of the short payback period as compared to the 15-20 year service life of a furnace. You make up the extra money you spent in the 1st six years, then years 7 thru 20 you get to keep that savings. Of course this is assuming that the cost of a unit of gas remains constant; as the cost of gas rises, you will realize greater savings.

Some may argue that they have no intentions of staying in their home over a 5 year period and therefore will miss out on any savings. This is a valid point, but keep in mind that you must sell your home and the 80% AFUE furnace may be a point of contention for the consumer that has done some research. Many consumers may ask for a concession on the sales price knowing that they will want to replace that 80% AFUE furnace with a 95% AFUE unit; that will leave you with the original cost of installing that 80% AFUE furnace 5 years ago as well as a price concession that will get the purchaser a 95% AFUE furnace. In essence, you may be buying that 95% AFUE furnace and never have gotten the benefit from it.

Furthermore, warranties from the manufacturer are usually better for the 95% AFUE furnaces. Typically, manufacturers provide a lifetime warranty on the 95% AFUE furnace heat exchanger versus the 20 year warranty which is typical on an 80% AFUE furnace heat exchanger.

In conclusion, if you have any doubts about which type of furnace will best fit your needs, contact the experts at RJ Kuhn in Oswego, IL. for assistance. We will ask questions to determine which unit is best for you and provide you with a fair analysis.