Is My Furnace TOO Old?

“Does that say 1993 or 1983?” You ask yourself while trying to read the faded handwriting on the first entries of your furnace’s service record. It may be time to consider a furnace replacement. You cringe when thinking about what it will cost. Be at ease. This can be a very logical, practical, and informed decision. Understanding what a new furnace will do for you will help you confidently determine when to pull the trigger on upgrading your system.

The Basics

You already know today’s systems are more energy efficient and cost effective than ever before. But where is the break-even point on monthly savings vs. up-front investment?

To start, the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) is what you’ll hone in on. Most of today’s models hover around being 95% efficient; meaning 95% of the fuel is used to heat your home while only 5% escapes through exhaust and combustion.

So let’s carry-out our rather common scenario. You are looking to replace your forced air system from the early 1990’s. Your current furnace, rated 75% AFUE, and your average size home during an average Minnesota winter rack up around $1,300 in energy bills during the cold months.

According to, an upgrade to a new 95% AFUE system (although higher rated systems are available) should yield a cost savings of about $21.10 per $100 spent on the gas bill. Therefore, making the upgrade should result in a cost savings of about $275 throughout each winter, or $2,750 over a ten year period. This is significant, especially when considering that the new furnace should last at least 15-20 years.

It Gets Better

Unsure if you’ll be in your home long enough to reap the returns? A newer furnace is one of the most appealing factors to any potential home buyer. You can’t necessarily expect to add exactly what you pay for a new furnace to your asking price, but homes with newer furnaces generally sell quicker and for more money.

Plan to be in your home for a while? It’s not bad idea to check with your city or local municipality. Many offer incentives for upgrading your home furnace — like low interest loans and loan-forgiveness if you stay in your same home for a period of time (often 7 years). You should also check with your utility provider (Xcel, CenterPoint, etc.) about any rebates, incentives, or programs that they offer for furnace replacement.

You are also doing Mother Nature a favor. For example, upgrading a 56% AFUE gas system to a 95% AFUE system in an average cold climate house will save 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

In the end, replacing your furnace is an important decision. Try to counter the emotions of the up-front costs with the logic of the long term benefits. Every situation is unique. A licensed professional from Owens can make sure you get the best value on the best system for your specific circumstances.

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