High-efficiency furnaces make a simple promise: increased up-front costs in exchange for less energy usage and lower long-term operating costs. While these furnaces certainly use less energy, you may be wondering if they require additional maintenance throughout their lifespan. Fortunately, a high-efficiency furnace shouldn't cost more to maintain, but they do require some specialized maintenance.
What Makes a High-Efficiency Furnace?
To understand fuel efficiency, you'll need to become familiar with the concept of annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). Any furnace you look at should display this number prominently. The AFUE tells you what percentage of fuel the furnace can convert into usable heat and, in turn, the amount of fuel lost in the exhaust stream.
The numbers alone don't tell you why these furnaces are more energy-efficient than older models. This improved efficiency mostly comes from the presence of a condenser that attempts to pull every last bit of heat from the exhaust before it escapes your home. These furnaces may also utilize continuously adjustable blowers and burners to provide just the right amount of heat to meet demand.
High-Efficiency Maintenance Complications
Since high-efficiency furnaces utilize more sophisticated components, they also require a bit more maintenance from time-to-time. Although these maintenance tasks shouldn't increase your operating costs by much, they are critical to ensure your furnace remains reliable and efficient. This extra maintenance mainly stems from the presence of additional drains and vents.
Since energy-efficient models condense the exhaust gases to extract more heat, they require a condensate drain near the furnace to eliminate this waste. If the drain becomes clogged, the furnace will usually throw an error code and shut down. Checking this drain for obstructions or other problems is a critical part of annual furnace maintenance.
Likewise, many high-efficiency furnaces utilize an extra exterior vent to bring in a steady supply of fresh air. This vent is subject to the same risks as any other vent on the outside of your home. Depending on its location, it can become clogged by debris or suffer from other issues. If your furnace cannot exhaust combustion gases or pull in outside air, it will shut down for safety reasons.
Maintaining Your High-Efficiency Furnace
To realize the best gains from a high-efficiency furnace, you need to stay on top of annual maintenance. An HVAC professional can provide you with a yearly inspection and tune-up to ensure that your furnace operates at peak efficiency. By staying on top of your maintenance, you'll get to reap the rewards of lower energy usage for many years to come. Reach out to a professional to discuss your heating maintenance needs.