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When Should You Replace Your Boiler or Furnace?

Why is it so important to make certain that your home heat system is working efficiently?

For starters, if your home runs on oil or gas, the Energy Saving Trust believes it is responsible for 50% of your energy bills. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2009, the average PA home spent approximately 1,250 dollars annually on oil and gas in the home. The cost of your heat depends largely on the efficiency of your boiler or furnace. That is why it is important to replace your heating system when it is outdated, or not working properly.

In Western Pennsylvania, we use our heat about 5-7 months out of the year. And given the limited amount of sun we get in the Pittsburgh area, it’s probable that we use heat closer to 7 months of the year. Do you want to run a system the majority of the year that wastes gas or oil and raises your energy bills? We think not!
When to Replace your Boiler

*Tip: Ensure the longest lifespan for your heating system by keeping it maintained. Get your boiler or furnace serviced annually to make sure it is safe, and repair problems before they become too expensive to fix.

Find out if your boiler needs to be replaced by determining how efficient it is.

Every boiler and furnace has a rating associated with it. This rating is based on its energy efficiency or annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). Both the age and type of heat system you have affects how efficient it is. However, AFUE percentages are hypothetical numbers based on calculations. Read below for a simple way to find out if your boiler or furnace has a low, middle, or high efficiency rating based on how it functions, and the components it has.

Low-efficiency heating systems:

  • Natural draft that creates a flow of combustion gases
  • Continuous pilot light
  • Heavy heat exchanger

These systems tend to be older, as some of these functions, like the continuous pilot light, are no longer allowed in modern boilers. On average, these systems have between a 56% to 70% AFUE rating.

Mid-efficiency heating systems:

  • Exhaust fan controls the flow of combustion air and combustion gases more precisely
  • Electronic ignition (no pilot light)
  • Compact size and lighter weight to reduce cycling losses
  • Small-diameter flue pipe

In general, these systems have between a 80% to 83% AFUE rating.

High-efficiency heating systems:

  • Condensing flue gases in a second heat exchanger for extra efficiency
  • Sealed combustion
  • Temperature control devices

High-efficiency heating systems with the above components usually have between a 90% to 98.5% AFUE rating. Temperature control devices make it so you can be exact with how and when you heat every area in your home.

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