Are High Efficiency Furnaces Worth It?

By: Brian Schutt  |  January 9, 2019

As a homeowner, it’s important to save money where you can, so many Indianapolis residents want to know if an upgrade to a high-efficiency furnace is worth the investment. So are high efficiency furnaces worth it?

At Homesense, we are privileged to visit many homes in Central Indiana. There is a wide variety of construction styles and ages of the homes we see. Therefore, if you should upgrade your heating really depends on your home’s characteristics and on you.

Let’s review high-efficiency furnace benefits and typical arguments against, so you can make your decision when the time comes.

Are High Efficiency Furnaces Worth It? See the Benefits

Higher Efficiency Furnaces Mean Lower Utility Bills

What makes a furnace a high-efficiency furnace is its Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency or AFUE. The AFUE indicates the percentage of fuel converted to energy.

For example, if the AFUE of a furnace is 80 percent, it means 80 cents of every dollar spent on gas is used. Twenty cents of each of those dollars, however, is wasted, because of the energy loss.

Likewise, a typical high-efficiency furnace with an AFUE of 95 percent uses 95 cents of every dollar to produce heat. Energy loss is only five percent or nickel from every dollar spent on gas.

Many Indianapolis homeowners have an inefficient gas furnace. Older furnaces, for example, commonly had AFUE percentages between 58 and 70. The federal requirement for furnaces to have a minimum AFUE of 80 percent fully went into effect in 2015. In this case, an upgrade to 95 is a dramatic improvement to utility bills.

Better Performance, Quieter Operation, Greater Comfort

Stages are another benefit of a high-efficiency furnace. Multiple stages allow the furnace to operate at the speed needed to accommodate the desired temperature.

Variable speeds offer greater energy efficiency because they don’t need to be running at “full speed” every time they operate. The ability to run in lower stages makes them quieter as well.

Variable speeds also preserve the equipment for a longer lifespan. One could argue a two-stage 80 percent is ultimately a better choice than a single-speed 95 percent furnace.

However, the biggest benefit of a variable speed blower on a high-efficiency furnace is its comfort. This flexible speed helps add more consistent temperature throughout your home and reduces short-cycling issues.

A High Efficiency Furnace is Better for the Environment

No one person or act is going to save the world. But we can all do little things every day. A high-efficiency furnace is one of those things. The more efficient our appliances are, the more we conserve our resources.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Midwesterners prefer a furnace as their main heating source. Out of 26.4 million homes studied, 77 percent use a central furnace, eight percent use steam or hot water system and 7 percent have a built-in electric unit.

So you can see, if the majority of the 77 percent were to use a high-efficiency furnace, it would make a big difference in energy consumption.

Arguments Against if a High Efficiency Furnace is Worth It

A gas furnace uses combustion to generate energy, or heat. An 80 percent model uses open combustion, pulling in the surrounding air. In contrast, a 95 percent model uses sealed combustion and pulls air in from outside.

As part of the professional installation process, your HVAC tech installs a dedicated PVC pipe to move the combustion air to the high-efficiency furnace. There are two concerns to consider here, safety and cost.


If your furnace is in a vented area, gases produced by its combustion process are not a big deal. However, if your furnace is in a closed crawl space or sealed attic, open combustion has additional risks. Because of the dedicated exhaust pipe, the high-efficiency furnace is the safer choice in these installations.


Because it’s unlikely your home already has this exhaust flue in place, it generally requires more labor cost beyond the system installation. While this slight increase in cost has an impact on the price to homeowners, the construction is usually straightforward and adds limited time to the project.

High Efficiency Furnace Contractor in Indianapolis

We hope we’ve helped clarify some of the pros and cons when it comes to whether you should invest in a high-efficiency furnace. We know there are a lot of factors involved and we’re happy to review them for you with a free estimate.

So if you’re a homeowner in Indianapolis or suburbs, like Noblesville or Fishers, Homesense is available for your HVAC service, repair and installation needs. We also work closely with Central Indiana realtors, property managers and real estate investors on heating and air issues.

Remember, our team offers expertise with no pressure. We love to inform and consult. No hassle, no forceful sales pitch. Trust Homesense with your HVAC and air quality needs.

Still asking: are high efficiency furnaces worth it? We’d like to help! Call Homesense at 317-203-8149 or submit an appointment request form today.

HVAC Service Areas: