Serving the Hudson Valley region

How efficient is a fuel oil furnace?

furnaceWhen it comes to heating a home here in the Hudson Valley, a heating oil furnace is hard to beat for convenience or performance –it can be installed in any neighborhood (since you don’t need a pipeline, as you do with natural gas), you’ll never have to worry about your fuel exploding, and you will always know it will stand up to the most bitter winter Mother Nature can throw at us.

You’ll also rest easy knowing that your furnace will last a long time – typically 15-20 years or more if they’re properly maintained.

But where do oil-fired furnaces stand on efficiency?

There’s no doubt that how much heating bang for the buck you get is one of the most important considerations in choosing a furnace. Let’s take a look at how oil-fired furnaces stack up.

AFUE: An efficiency starting point

Any conversation about furnace efficiency usually starts 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.

AFUE doesn’t tell 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 Hudson Valley home.

Already have a heating oil furnace (or planning to add one to your home)? Now’s a great time to stock up on the oil it needs to get you through the long Hudson Valley winter. For reliable heating oil deliveries at the best prices in Dutchess, Columbia, Orange, Sullivan, Delaware, Greene, and Ulster counties, trust the pros at Economy Oil!