Furnaces tend to become less efficient as they age. Older models were also less efficient, from the get-go, than furnaces that are made today. But how do you know whether your furnace has lost a significant amount of efficiency, or whether it's inefficient enough to warrant a replacement? Here are a few ways to tell.
Compare your heating bills to those of friends.
Do you have friends with homes similar in size to your own? It may not be a completely accurate comparison, but if they're willing to share their heating bills, examining them can tell you a lot. If friends with similar homes have significantly lower heating bills than you, and they don't keep their homes much cooler, then there is a good chance your furnace isn't very efficient.
When comparing bills, it's often best to compare the units of fuel used rather than the dollar amount. This way, you get a more accurate comparison if your heating fuel is at different prices per unit.
Check the color of the flame.
Furnaces should have white or blue flames. This means they are burning fuel efficiently and completely. If the flame is orange or has a lot of flickering orange within it, this means the gas is burning at a lower temperature. A lot of fuel goes to waste in this case.
Most furnaces have a window you can look through to see the burner in action. If yours does not, you may need to remove the main door to observe the flame. Use caution when doing this. Keep kids and pets away, and never reach into the furnace while the burner is operating.
Look at the label.
Some furnaces have labels on the face plate that provide lots of detailed information. Depending on when your furnace was made, this label may include an efficiency rating. Check out this rating. It won't tell you whether your furnace's efficiency has diminished over time, but it will tell you whether you have a really inefficient, older model.
For reference, today's standard furnaces are 80 percent efficient. Energy-efficient models are 90 percent efficient or more. If your furnace's listed efficiency is much lower than 80, you're wasting a lot of energy.
If you find that your furnace is less efficient than you'd like, contact a service such as McQuade Heating & Cooling Plumbing & Refrigeration. They can help you explore your options for newer, more energy-efficient furnaces that will heat your home for less.