Best High Efficiency Furnaces of 2020
Buying a new gas furnace is worrisome enough without having to deal with the pressure of knowing you might be without heat for a few days in the winter months. In the sections below, we’ve provided a list of the best high efficiency gas furnaces for your home during the 2019 and 2020 heating season. They were selected for many reasons including cost, efficiency, comfort and features, as well as furnace brand, warranty and historical reliability.
Almost all of the best high efficiency gas furnaces below have the added benefit of being listed on the EnergyStar Highest Efficiency Gas Furnaces of 2020 selection. Going into the new year, many of these same furnaces were the best furnace in 2019 as well, so plan ahead and get the right furnace with a long life ahead. They all operate at above a 95% AFUE and when properly installed, and promise the most value for you home heating budget.
High Efficiency Furnace Buying Guide
If you’re an energy and budget conscious consumer, buying one of the best high efficiency furnaces available should appeal to you. The new furnace cost is going to be higher than standard efficiency, but the annual operating costs are going to be significant lower than lower efficiency models. If you live in an area where you heat more than you cool your home, you’re going to save considerably every time the furnace runs!
This high efficiency furnace buying guide is her to help you understand features and performance. Hopefully, you too will realize the benefit of installing a high efficiency furnace.
Dual Chamber Heat Exchangers
Standard efficiency furnaces use a single tubular or ribbon style heat exchanger. High efficiency models use a multi-chamber heat exchanger, assuring that the fuel gets burned more efficiently and you get more value for your heating money.
Benefit: Dual, or Multi-chamber Heat Changers burn the fuel more efficiently.
Variable Speed Blowers / ECM Blowers
Standard furnaces use a single speed, or at most a multi-speed blower that allows you to manually set the amount of airflow in your duct system. High efficiency furnace use variable or modulated speed blowers, that automatically adjusts to the heating needs of your home and sends the right amount of airflow to keep the temperature perfect, or within 1 degree at all times.
Benefit: Variable or ECM blowers use less energy and keep the indoor air temperature at a much more comfortable setting. This helps avoid short/long cycling, and saves money on electricity.
Furnace Ignitors / Startup Systems
Older furnaces used to use pilot lights to fire off the furnace. Eventually that changed to hot surface ignitors, which are similar to a glow plug of sorts, providing the needed flame to ignite the gas coming out of the valve. Today’s high efficiency furnaces use an electronic ignition system that only sparks when the furnace is being lit.
Benefit: Electronic ignitors only fire as needed. They don’t glow and waste electricity, or burn non-stop wasting natural gas like a pilot system.
Multi-Stage and Modulating Gas Valves and Burners
Standard furnaces generally use single stage gas valves. This means they are on or off, flowing the same amount of natural gas all the time they are lit or burning.
Multi-stage or modulating gas valves can automatically sense how much heat you need based on the thermostat, and run at a lower or higher setting, based on the need in your home. If your thermostat only calls for a 2-degree rise in temperature, the valve will run on low, along with the lower speed fan, delivering the right amount of heated air to your home more efficiently.
Benefit: Instead of all-on like a single stag valve, 2 or more stage gas valves use much less gas making them much higher in efficiency.
Smart Communication Systems and Monitoring
Standard furnaces can use smart thermostats as well, but what they don’t do is communicate with them. High efficiency furnaces talk back and forth with their matching thermostat systems, reporting problems like an old air filter or airflow issues, high chamber temperatures, carbon monoxide dangers, and much more.
Benefit: Communicating furnaces are much more intelligent than standard. They operate at higher degrees of accuracy and provide feedback to homeowners, catching and reporting small problems before they turn into big problems.
High Efficiency Furnace Cost and ROI
Lets face it, high efficiency furnaces cost more at the point of initial purchase, as well as installation. In most cases, you’ll spend almost twice the money for a high efficiency furnace over standard.
However, when it comes to operating costs of a high efficiency furnace, you’re going to save anywhere from 15-35% in monthly fuel expense. So, if you normally spend $100/month in the heating system on natural gas, you can expect to save $20-$35/month on your heating expenses with a high efficiency furnace.
Adding to the benefit, is that high efficiency heating systems are known to last longer as well. So if you get 20 years out of a high efficiency furnace, you can expect to save additional money versus having to replace it sooner.
The exact savings are something you should review with your HVAC specialist before making a purchase. They’ll know exactly how much each therm of gas costs, be able to review your past heating bills, and tell you a fairly specific estimate of how much a high efficiency furnace will save you each year.
** Costs below include installation as well as a matching smart thermostat. They do not include central ac, accessories, etc.
|Size (BTU’s)||Standard Efficiency||High Efficiency Cost|
|40,000 – 60,000||$2,190 Installed||$3,850 Installed|
|60,000 – 80,000||$2,720 Installed||$4,390 Installed|
|80,000 – 100,000||$3,280 Installed||$5,150 Installed|
|100,000 – 120,000||$3,690 Installed||$5,900 Installed|
Where You Live Makes a Big Difference
Regardless of where you live in the USA, you’ll benefit from installing a high efficiency gas furnace. That said, it makes much more sense if you live in an area that uses heat more often.
Minimal Benefit / Lowest ROI – Places like Florida, Louisiana, and other states where heat is rarely used. Yes, you’ll still benefit from the high efficiency, but the initial expense will be hard to reclaim, due to lower usage.
Maximum Benefit / Highest ROI – Areas that use heat more than 4 months out of the year, will get the highest ROI from a high efficiency gas furnace. The simple reason for this is that you heat more often and thus save more money on fuel expense, reclaiming the higher cost a little bit each month the furnace is in use.