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Most Energy Efficient Gas Furnaces 2016

If you’re looking for a furnace that will cut your energy costs significantly while reducing heat loss to near zero, you’ve got options from all the leading HVAC manufacturers. There are 11 on our list, all with 97% efficiency or higher.

You’ll find detailed reviews of many of these furnaces in our HVAC reviews. Use the search box to locate the reviews which contain a list of features, gas furnace costs and more details.

The eleven most efficient gas furnaces 2016 list is at the bottom. First, though, we’ve included a wealth of information to assist you in choosing your next gas furnace.

AFUE and What it Means

This is the Annualized Fuel Usage Efficiency, a measurement of how efficient the furnace is over the full heating season.

A furnace with a 98% AFUE transfers 98% of the heat it creates into the duct work of your home. Only 2% of the heat escapes out the flue with the combustion gases. This is why high-efficiency gas furnaces can be vented out the side of your home – the air is cool enough that it doesn’t pose a threat to people, pets, bushes or your home’s siding.

Furnace Efficiency and Furnace Size for your Home

When you go with a highly efficient model, you might need a smaller furnace.

When you read furnace literature, keep in mind that:

  • Input is the number of BTUs of heat created by the gas valve and burner assembly
  • Output is the number of BTUs transferred into your ductwork. This is sometimes simply referred to as furnace capacity

The higher the efficiency rating, the more BTUs are transferred.

Consider the example of a 100,000 BTU input furnace:

  • 80% AFUE: 100,000 BTU input = 80,000 BTU output
  • 98% AFUE = 100,000 BTU input = 98,000 BTU output

Now, if your HVAC contractor determines that your home requires 80,000 BTUs of heat to be comfortable, you’ll need the 100,000 BTU output furnace if you choose an 80% AFUE model.

However, if you jump up to a 90% efficient furnace, you’ll only need a 90,000 BTU output model since 90,000 x 0.9 = 81,000.

If you choose a 98% efficient furnace, you’ll need a furnace that creates about 82,000 BTU since 82,000 x 0.98 = 80,360.

Most furnaces are available in increments of 10,000 to 20,000 BTUs. Here are two examples of BTU input:

American Standard Platinum 95 Furnace (Upflow models)

  • 60,000 BTU
  • 80,000 BTU
  • 100,000 BTU
  • 120,000 BTU

Ruud Ultra Series U97V Furnace (Upflow models)

  • 56,000 BTU
  • 70,000 BTU
  • 84,000 BTU
  • 98,000 BTU
  • 112,000 BTU

Note: When you read that a furnace offers 98% AFUE, it means that the most efficient size of that model 98%. The other sizes might be up to 1.5% different less efficient. The most efficient American Standard Platinum 95 furnace is the size with 60,000 BTU input; the least efficient is the 100,000 BTU model with 96% efficiency.

Furnace BTU Input vs. Output

The American Standard Platinum 95 literature gives BTU figures as the Max Output Capacity. We used the input figures in the example above. This means that those BTU amounts (output) reflect the heat that is transferred into your ducts for the purpose of heating your home.

By contrast, Ruud’s literature for the Ultra Series U97V gives the figures as BTU input which is the amount of heat created, NOT the heat transferred. You have to multiply each of the BTU input numbers by 0.97 to get the amount of heat transferred.

The difference isn’t much when considering very efficient gas furnaces. However, when discussing 80% or even 90% furnaces, knowing whether you’re talking about heat created by the furnace as opposed to heat transferred by the exchanger(s) is important to getting the right size furnace for your home.

How High Gas Furnace Efficiency is Achieved

On the way out of your home, the combustion gases pass through the heat exchanger, a set of tubes that reverse back and forth. The furnace blower pulls air through the cold-air return ducts into the furnace and over/past the heat exchanger. The heat transfers through the exchanger and into the air which is then forced/circulated by the blower into the heat ducts, through heat registers/vents and into your living spaces.

Furnaces over 90% efficient typically have a secondary heat exchanger too. Its purpose is to transfer additional heat out of the combustion gases before the gases exit your home.

Gas Furnace Variable-capacity / Modulating Heat

All of the models on this list are variable-capacity furnaces. Before their introduction, the top furnaces were two-stage models. The gas valve has two stages of operation, low-capacity (50% to 65% depending on model) and full-capacity (100%). Two-stage furnaces, still the most popular type, run on low capacity most of the time to produce quieter, gentler heating cycles that reduce the temperature swings common to single-stage furnaces.

Modulating furnaces, more recently called variable-capacity furnaces, have gas valves that can deliver gas at any capacity between about 40% depending on the model to 100%, adjusting in increments of 1% or less.

The most efficient two-stage furnaces have secondary heat exchangers and offer about 96%efficiency. The high level of precision of variable-capacity gas valves boosts efficiency beyond 96% to the high levels produced by the furnaces on this list.

These furnaces also have variable-speed blowers. They run at a speed consistent with the functioning of the gas valve. They start slow while the furnace is still heating up and speed up as the furnace creates more heat to circulate. The blower slows down as the burner shuts off, distributing the last of the heated air. Variable-speed blowers help reduce temper fluctuation, offer better humidity control and maximize energy efficiency.

Pros and Cons of a High Efficiency Gas Furnace

Should you buy a high-efficiency gas furnace? These pros and cons might clarify your decision.

Pros—High efficiency gas furnaces:

  • Cut heating costs by up to 25% when replacing a furnace 20+ years old
  • Reduce energy use, so are more ecofriendly
  • Offer better climate control than single-stage and two-stage models
  • Filter indoor air more consistently
  • Can be vented through the wall instead of the roof, and this might reduce installation hassle and cost and the potential for water leaking into your home
  • Note: Tax credits and utility company rebates might be available where you live on the purchase of a very efficient gas furnace. See for details on your area.

Cons—High efficiency gas furnaces:

  • Cost 35% to 100% more than two-stage and single-stage models of the same capacity

The Payback Period on a High Efficiency Gas Furnace

The payback period is the amount of time it takes to recoup the extra money spent on a high-efficiency furnace compared to a less-efficient model. The money is recouped through lower energy bills.

You’ll have to do some math to figure out your payback period, and having your old winter utility bills is essential to knowing how much you’ve spent on heating in the past.

For determining how much you can reduce your energy use:

  • A 90% furnace will save you 11% vs. an 80% furnace
  • A 98% furnace will save you 8% vs. a 90% furnace and 18.5% vs. an 80% furnace

If you spent $1,000 on heating last year, you’ll save:

  • $110 per year by choosing a 90% furnace over an 80% model
  • $80 per year by choosing a 98% furnace over a 90% model
  • $185 per year by choosing a 98% furnace over an 80% model

The furnace runs more in cold climates, so the payback period is shorter than in climates with milder winters.

Is a High Efficiency Gas Furnace Right for You?

Ask yourself three questions to determine which efficiency makes the most sense for your home:

  • How much do I spend on heating, and, therefore, how long is the payback period for a more efficient furnace based on what I could save?
  • How long do I plan to live in this home, and how does that compare to the payback period?
  • Is conserving energy and having a green home important enough to me that I’m willing to buy a very efficient furnace even if I don’t recoup the cost?

If you’re looking for additional ways to cut energy use and costs, these are the top choices:

  • Add insulation to your home where possible such as the attic
  • Add weatherstripping and caulk to windows, doors and frames where needed
  • Install a programmable thermostat, and use it to lower the heating level in your home (cooling, too), when you are sleeping or gone
  • Use a Wi-Fi enabled thermostat to control the HVAC system when your away

The 2016 Most Efficient Gas Furnaces

As noted, these are all furnaces with

  • Variable-capacity furnaces
  • Variable-speed blowers
  • Enhanced humidity and climate control
  • Primary and secondary heat exchangers
  • Lifetime limited heat exchanger warranties

In the list to follow, additional features are mentioned which might help you make a decision about which furnaces to gather more information about. We can help you get free written estimates with no obligation too. See below for details.

1. Dave Lennox Signature Series SLP98V Gas Furnace

Top Efficiency: 98.7%

The Lennox SLP98V has been improved from 98.3% AFUE when it was first introduced a few years ago. The unit includes advanced sound-reducing technology.

Sizes: 70,000 to 135,000 BTU input

Starting price: $2,800

2. Carrier Infinity 98 59MN7 Greenspeed Gas Furnace

Top Efficiency: 98.5%

This is Carrier’s best furnace. It has an ECM blower that uses less electricity to run and a stainless steel secondary heat exchanger.

Sizes: 60,000 to 120,000 BTU input

Starting price: $3,000

3. Bryant Evolution 987M Gas Furnace

Top Efficiency: 98.3%

This is high-performance furnace with a stainless steel, fin & tube secondary heat exchanger. It’s a dual fuel furnace which means it can be included in a system with a heat pump instead of a central air conditioner.

Sizes: 60,000 to 120,000 BTU input

Starting price: $2,900

4. Amana AMVM97 Gas Furnace

Top Efficiency: 98%

This top-rated furnace includes a stainless steel secondary heat exchanger and constant-on fan option that improves airflow and filtration.

Sizes: 60,000 to 120,000 BTU input

Starting price: $2,600

5. York Affinity YP9C, Coleman Echelon CP9C and Luxaire LP9C Gas Furnaces

Top Efficiency: 98%

These are triplet furnaces from Johnson Controls companies. The advanced ClimaTrak system customizes the heating to your locale. If the heat exchanger fails in the first 10 years, York will replace the entire furnace at your option.

Sizes: 60,000 to 120,000 BTU input

Starting price: $2,500

6. Heil QuietComfort Deluxe 98 G9MAE Gas Furnace

Top Efficiency: 98%

This is a dual fuel furnace and works with a Wi-Fi enabled thermostat (as most models on this list do). The heat exchanger is protected by a 10-year furnace replacement warranty.

Sizes: 60,000 to 120,000 BTU input

Starting price: $2,800

7. American Standard Platinum 95 & Trane XC95m Gas Furnace

Top Efficiency: 97.3%

These twin furnaces from United Technology brands have a heavy-duty aluminized steel primary heat exchanger that is made from one piece to limit defects and failure.

Sizes: 60,000 to 120,000 BTU input

Starting price: $3,000

8. Maytag M1200 Series PGC2MQ iQ Drive Gas Furnace

Top Efficiency: 97%

The variable-speed blower will boost the efficiency of 13-14 SEER air conditioners it is paired with. The heat exchanger’s warranty includes furnace replacement coverage for 12 years, one of the best warranties in the industry. This model is also made by sister Nortek Global brands Tappan, Westinghouse, Broan, Frigidaire and NuTone.

Sizes: Not available, but roughly the same as the other units on the list

Starting price: $2,900

9. Armstrong A97MV Gas Furnace

Top Efficiency: 97%

Also made by Air Ease, this furnace has stainless steel primary and secondary heat exchangers for outstanding durability.

Sizes: 66,000 to 132,000 BTU input

Starting price: $2,600

10. Ruud Ultra U97V & Rheem R97V Gas Furnace

Top Efficiency: 97%

These twin units are equipped with an ECM energy-saving blower and communicating technology that enhances climate control in all seasons.

Sizes: 56,000 to 112,000 BTU input

Starting price: $2,700

11. Goodman GCVM97 Gas Furnace

Top Efficiency: 97%

An aluminized primary heat exchanger and stainless steel secondary heat exchanger offer excellent durability. Goodman will replace the entire furnace if the heat exchanger fails in the first 10 years.

Sizes: Sizes: 40,000 to 120,000 BTU input

Starting price: $1,800

Proper Installation Ensures Top Performance

To get the efficiency, climate control and durability you expect, the unit you buy must be correctly installed and adjusted to meet the needs of your home.

The best way to know you’re getting an experienced, qualified contractor is to request estimates from several installers in your area.

We take the hassle out of the process. Click on our free estimates offer, and fill out a brief form. Without making a phone call, you’ll receive written estimates from three of the top furnace companies where you live. The service is free, and there is no obligation.

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