How Efficient Is Your Heating Oil Furnace?

Efficient home heating

You can’t really go wrong when you chose a heating oil furnace for your Long Island home – it can be installed in any neighborhood (no pipeline needed), you’ll never have to worry about your fuel exploding, and you will always know it can provide enough heat to withstand the most bitter North Fork or East End winter.

Oil furnaces are built to last, too, with lifespans that can exceed 20 years with proper professional maintenance.

“Sounds great,” you say. “But what about efficiency?”

Efficiency is indeed critical to the choosing a furnace, since higher efficiency saves you money on heating bills and shrinks the carbon footprint of your home.

So are heating oil furnaces efficient? Let’s take a look.

AFUE: An efficiency starting point

A natural place to start a discussion about furnace efficiency is with the concept of AFUE, or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. The AFUE number reflects how much of the fuel your furnace or boiler consumes is actually directed toward producing heat for your living space (vs. how much energy is wasted along the way). For example, in an 84 AFUE unit, 84 percent of the fuel consumed by the machine goes to heating your home; the remaining 16 percent is lost somewhere along the way (usually up the chimney).

Most new oil furnaces have AFUE ratings between 84 percent (the federally-required minimum) and 90 percent. But if your furnace is old and not well maintained, your AFUE could drop into the 60s or even 50s – a big reason why the decision to upgrade your older heating equipment often pays for itself pretty quickly.

A good measure, but not the whole story

Of course, AFUE doesn’t tell the whole efficiency story. For example, propane furnaces can achieve AFUE ratings into the mid- to upper 90s – but propane also produces fewer BTUs per gallon than heating oil when burned, so whatever benefit you get from improved efficiency is diminished by propane’s lower heating power. Proper heating system installation and periodic heating system maintenance are also extremely important pieces of the efficiency equation.

Still, knowing the AFUE rating remains an important bit of information when it comes time to invest in new high efficiency heating equipment for your Long Island home.

Summing up

So is an oil furnace efficient? The answer is “it depends”: an older or poorly maintained heating oil furnace often isn’t, but a new, properly installed and maintained furnace is. While it may not achieve the efficiency rating of a gas furnace on paper, in the real world of home heating, an oil-fired furnace can often outperform a gas furnace by providing more heat per gallon (which means it won’t have to run as long, saving you fuel).

Add to the equation the fact that heating oil equipment typically lasts longer and requires less maintenance than gas equipment and you can see why an oil-fired furnace is such a great choice for your Long Island home.

On the hunt for a new heating oil furnace? We can help. Contact the heating pros at Burt’s Reliable for a FREE, no obligation estimate on an oil furnace for your eastern LI home today!