Boilers are the primary source of heat in many private homes in the United States that does not use a forced air heating system. They operate by heating a fluid that is then circulated through a series of radiators located throughout the house.
Boilers will typically last from 12 to 15 years. A boiler replacement can be avoided if timely and meticulous maintenance occurs. This increased lifespan is not necessarily a good thing in monetary terms. Old boilers were not designed to the standards of today and a boiler replacement may be necessary. This fact and their age make them extremely inefficient. A boiler replacement may seem expensive but the savings in fuel costs from a high efficiency boiler can easily recoup the investment in a couple of years.
Boiler efficiency is measured in terms of annual fuel utilization, also known as AFUE. This measurement reflects the amount of heat introduced into the home versus the energy consumed by the boiler. It is simply a ratio that shows how efficiently the boiler operates.
Boilers have been around for over a century. Obviously, the oldest have been replaced. Still, there are some fairly inefficient boilers still in use. Today’s installed boilers come in three general varieties.
Early, low-efficiency boilers:
· Inefficient draft method for the ventilation of combustion gases
· Pilot light on 24/7
· AFUE rating of 65 – 70 percent
Mid range, late model boilers:
· Mechanically induced flow of ventilated air
· Electronic ignition replaces pilot light
· AFUE rating of 80 – 85 percent
Modern, high-efficiency boilers:
· Utilizes condensed flue gases to attain extra efficiency
· Mechanically assisted ventilation
· AFUE rating of 90 – 97 percent
Every generation of boiler improves on the last with new designs and innovations. Their efficiency has steadily increased. The removal of the continuously lit pilot light and the mechanical control of the combustion chamber and the ventilated space have pushed efficiencies close to 100 percent.
There is no doubt that today’s boilers offer remarkable efficiency. A prudent homeowner would be wise to consider the age and functioning of their current boiler. Purchase and installation costs can be easily offset by significant monthly savings in utility bills. Fuel costs will keep rising. Can you afford to not upgrade to a high efficiency boiler replacement?