Improving Gas Furnace Performance: A Field and Laboratory Study at End of Life

Stacey Rothgeb, L. Brand, S. Yee, J. Baker, Stacey Rothgeb (NREL Technical Monitor)

Research output: NRELSubcontract Report


In 2010, natural gas provided 54% of total residential space heating energy the U.S. on a source basis, or 3.5 Quadrillion Btu. Natural gas burned in furnaces accounted for 92% of that total, and boilers and other equipment made up the remainder. A better understanding of installed furnace performance is a key to energy savings for this significant energy usage. Natural gas furnace performancecan be measured in many ways. The annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating provides a fixed value under specified conditions, akin to the EPA miles per gallon rating for new vehicles. The AFUE rating is provided by the manufacturer to the consumer and is a way to choose between models tested on the same basis. This value is commonly used in energy modeling calculations. ASHRAE 103 is aconsensus furnace testing standard developed by the engineering community. The procedure provided in the standard covers heat-up, cool down, condensate heat loss, and steady-state conditions and an imposed oversize factor. The procedure can be used to evaluate furnace performance with specified conditions or with some variation chosen by the tester. In this report the ASHRAE 103 test result willbe referred to as Annualized Efficiency (AE) to avoid confusion, and any non-standard test conditions will be noted. Aside from these two laboratory tests, steady state or flue loss efficiency can be measured in the field under many conditions; typically as found or tuned to the manufacturers recommended settings. In this report, AE and steady-state efficiency will be used as measures of furnaceperformance.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages47
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Work performed by Partnership for Advanced Residential Retrofit, Des Plaines, Illinois

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/SR-5500-63702

Other Report Number

  • DOE/GO-102015-4624


  • AE
  • AFUE
  • annual fuel utilization efficiency
  • annualized efficiency
  • Building America
  • furnace
  • natural gas
  • Parr
  • partnership for advanced residential retrofit (PARR)
  • residential
  • residential buildings


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