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90 percent AFUE Oil Furnace Review

By: Kelly Burgess on September 01, 2017

Bottom Line

Oil furnaces are less common than gas furnaces, but may be the only option in areas with limited access to natural gas. The minimum AFUE for newly installed non-weatherized oil furnaces is 83 percent. Replacing an older oil furnace with a more efficient model will save money over time.


  • Can be as efficient as some gas furnaces
  • A newer oil furnace will save in energy cost
  • Carbon emissions can be reduced with a newer system


  • Higher operating costs than a gas furnace
  • Price of oil is volatile
Our Analysis
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Our Analysis

Although gas-fired furnaces and boilers are by far the most common type of home heating system, oil furnaces remain popular in areas with limited access to natural gas. As of May 1, 2013, the minimum annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) for newly installed non-weatherized oil furnaces is 83 percent; weatherized furnace regulations took effect in January 2015 requiring a minimum AFUE of 78 percent.

Oil-fired furnaces have AFUE ratings than gas furnaces on average, although some models can achieve an AFUE of 95 percent. If you have an older oil furnace in your home, replacing it with a higher efficiency model will result in lower fuel costs and fewer carbon emissions than an older, less energy efficient oil furnace. It's estimated that upgrading an older 56 percent AFUE oil furnace to a 90 percent AFUE furnace will reduce CO2 emissions by 2.5 tons per year.

One big downside to oil-fired furnaces is the volatile price of oil versus natural gas, though a higher-efficiency furnace will at least use less oil, cushioning the shock when prices go up. Tax rebates or credits may be available from state governments or utility companies in some areas. For a complete, state-by-state list of credits and rebates, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) website.

Our Sources

U.S. Department of Energy, Not Dated

This article from the U.S. Department of Energy advises consumers on choosing the right furnace. It also discusses retrofitting options, and has a chart that shows the cost savings in replacing an older furnace.

U.S. Department of Energy, As of August 2017

These are the most efficient oil-fired boilers of 2017 according to the U.S. Department of Energy. All of the oil-fired boilers here have an AFUE rating of better than 90 percent. Annual operating costs are also detailed.

Editors of SmarterHouse.org, Not Dated

This site discusses the benefits in upgrading to a more high-efficiency furnace or boiler. It includes oil-powered systems as well as gas. There is also a brief guide to deciding if you may need to replace your older system and offering buying tips.

Donna Boyle Schwartz, Not Dated

In this article, gas furnaces are compared to oil; and gas comes out as a clear winner. However, if you don't have the choice of switching to gas, the author points out that upgrading any older furnace to a higher efficiency model will save in fuel costs.

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