How Efficient Are Heating Oil Systems?

The Reason People Use Less Heating Oil Now

oilheat wisconsin Today’s heating oil boilers and heating oil furnaces offer Wisconsin homeowners a great opportunity to increase their comfort while decreasing their energy usage. New heating oil systems can now heat a home using significantly less energy compared to older generation equipment.

The combination of higher blends of Bioheat fuel with increasingly efficient heating oil systems serves as the 1-2 punch that will help homeowners with oilheat save significant money on their energy bills while their homes are becoming more carbon neutral. The growth of Bioheat fuel makes it possible to install more super high efficiency systems in the years ahead.

People Need Less Heating Oil Now

Compared to about 25 years ago, homeowners now need an average of 500 gallons less heating oil to heat their homes each year. That’s because new, high-efficiency heating systems feature enhanced technology and control capabilities to provide optimal comfort while decreasing energy costs. Another popular feature of modern, high-efficiency heating systems is that they operate significantly quieter than old heating systems.

In contrast, old heating systems were built with thick metal components that do a poor job at transferring heat. Unfortunately, many of these systems are still in use today and people who still use them pay so much more to heat their home.

Despite this potential for big savings, many people don’t bother to update their heating system until something major goes wrong. They don’t realize that a new, high efficiency system could pay for itself in a fairly short period of time.

What Does AFUE Mean?

AFUE, an acronym for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, is a type of energy efficiency rating used for furnaces and boilers, including those fueled by heating oil. The AFUE number—usually found on a yellow sticker attached to your heating system—represents how much of the fuel your equipment consumes is being directed toward producing heat for your living space.

For example, in a newer heating system with an 85% AFUE rating, 85% of the fuel consumed by the heating system goes toward heating your home; the remaining 15% is lost in the combustion process—usually getting wasted up the chimney.

Another way to think about AFUE is to consider it in terms of the dollars you spend on fuel. In an 85% AFUE furnace, 85 cents of every dollar will go toward heating your Wisconsin home. But if your oil-powered furnace is old and not well maintained, your actual AFUE could drop into the 60s or even 50s. This is a big reason why new heating oil equipment usually pays for itself quickly. You’ll also see savings on maintenance and repairs when you update your system.

Knowing the AFUE rating remains an important bit of information when it comes time to high efficiency home heating equipment. But AFUE doesn’t tell the whole efficiency story. Proper heating system installation and periodic heating system maintenance are also extremely important pieces of the equation.

Efficiency ratings can be a good general starting point, but it’s important to remember that the tests to determine AFUE are all done in a laboratory. Efficiency performance is only as good as your installer. Equipment needs to be installed to the manufacturer’s specifications so you can get the best performance and value for your investment.

Installing Heating Equipment Properly

Your installer will have to determine how much BTU power your new system needs. Some contractors will miscalculate and install a heating system that’s too powerful, or oversized. This will give you more heat than you need, wasting energy and money. But if the system doesn’t have enough power, (undersized), your home will not feel comfortable; you will also spend more on fuel because the boiler or furnace will keep turning on.

To determine how much power your home’s heating system needs, an experienced heating oil service provider will do tests to figure out how much heat your home loses in the winter.

Once a proper-sized system is selected, your heating oil service provider will install it the right way. This requires skilled technicians with specialized training. A furnace or boiler is not like a refrigerator that gets wheeled into the kitchen and plugged in. A heating system installation takes much more work!

Bottom line: installing a new heating system will increase energy efficiency and save you money, assuming the boiler or furnace is sized and installed correctly.

If you’re ready to explore new heating oil system options for your home, your local heating oil company or HVAC service contractor will be happy to help. Please remember to ask about current rebate opportunities for heating oil equipment in Wisconsin.