How To Measure An Oil Furnace’s Efficiency

Heating with oil is a great option for your home—you don’t need a pipeline, your fuel is safe to use and deliver, and you can rest easy knowing that you’re using a fuel that has heated Long Island homes for more than a century.

But what about the efficiency of an oil-fired furnace—how does it stack up against other available options?

That’s an important question to answer since efficiency determines how much heating bang for your buck you’re going to get month after. Are heating oil furnaces efficient? Let’s take a look:

AFUE: A Good Starting Point, But Not The Whole Picture

One of the more important ways to measure efficiency in a furnace is AFUE, or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency.

The AFUE number (usually indicated on that yellow sticker on your furnace) indicates how much of the energy that your furnace creates actually makes it into your living space as heat. In an 85 AFUE unit, for example, 85 percent of the heating oil your equipment burns will ultimately be used to heat your living space—the remaining 15 percent of that heat is lost along the way.

Energy Efficiency Of Heating Oil

Most new oil furnaces have AFUE ratings between 84 percent (the legal minimum) and 90 percent. But in an older furnace, AFUE could drop much lower than that—a big reason why it will often pay to replace rather than repair older equipment.

AFUE doesn’t tell the whole efficiency story, either. For example, you could spend hundreds of dollars more on fuel for a furnace compared to a neighbor who owns one with a nearly identical AFUE rating. How is that possible, you ask? Because AFUE only measures energy lost to the chimney, which means it doesn’t take into account such factors as idle loss, drafts, heating load mismatches, and poor installation and maintenance.

Fuel makes a big difference, too. Natural gas furnaces can have AFUE ratings that reach the upper 90s—but gas produces fewer BTUs per gallon than heating oil when burned, so whatever benefit you get from improved efficiency is offset by gas’ lower heating power.

Summing Things Up

So is an oil furnace efficient? The answer is a qualified “yes, if…” If you have your furnace installed and regularly maintained by an expert, it can stand up to any furnace available today when it comes to providing heating bank for the buck. An older or poorly maintained heating oil furnace? Not so much.

Need service to help your oil furnace run at peak efficiency or a heating oil delivery in Long Island to top off your tank? We can help. Contact Southville Petroleum today to learn more about our Gold Service Plan and reliable heating oil deliveries in Suffolk County, New York!