If your home needs a new heating system, a fuel oil furnace can be a powerful, safe, and reliable choice. These furnaces are cheaper to operate than most gas and electric furnaces, and because fuel oil contains large amounts of embodied energy, they can heat up your home very quickly during the frigid winter months.

However, many oil furnaces (especially cheaper models) waste a significant amount of the oil they consume and are not particularly energy-efficient. If you want to enjoy the benefits of installing a powerful oil furnace, but also want your furnace to be energy-efficient and eco-friendly, look for a furnace with the following features.

A High AFUE Rating

Every oil furnace is given an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency Rating, or AFUE, before it can be sold to a consumer. This rating is expressed as a percentage, and can tell you how much of the fuel oil you put into the furnace will be converted into usable heat. The remaining percentage of burned oil is lost as waste heat, which escapes through the furnace's chimney and/or venting.

An 84% AFUE rating is the legal minimum for residential oil furnaces, and you should never purchase any oil furnace with a lower rating. However, you should not settle for an 84% AFUE rating if you can afford a more efficient furnace. Bear in mind that furnaces with higher AFUE ratings require less oil to heat your home, so spending more on an efficient furnace will lead to lower long-term running costs.

Many modern oil furnaces can achieve up to a 90% AFUE rating. This rivals most modern natural gas furnaces in terms of overall efficiency, but a high-efficiency oil furnace usually costs considerably less than a gas-fired alternative.

Proper Sizing

You may be tempted to buy the biggest and most powerful oil furnace you can afford, to heat your home as quickly as possible. However, an oversized furnace will consume far more oil than necessary to provide adequate heating. Before you purchase any furnace, you should have a professional HVAC service perform a heat loss calculation on your home, to determine how much heating power you actually need.

Condensing Functionality

Condensing oil furnaces are harder to find than conventional oil furnaces, but these highly efficient furnaces can be a valuable addition to your home. These unique furnaces contain multiple heat exchangers and can achieve AFUE ratings of up to 95%, making them some of the most energy-efficient furnaces available today.

There is, however, a downside to condensing oil furnaces. The byproducts created by their unique combustion processes are highly acidic and can cause the furnace to corrode and wear out more quickly than a conventional oil furnace. Condensing oil furnaces with stainless steel construction can be expensive, but are more resistant to corrosion.

For more information, contact a residential furnace service.