Heating & Cooling 101
In your quest to find the ideal heating or cooling system, you will encounter several important industry-standard efficiency ratings. The higher efficiency your product, the lower your long-term energy costs will be.
SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is the measure of efficiency by which the cooling process of air conditioners and heat pumps is rated. The higher the SEER number, the greater the efficiency—and therefore greater energy savings. Today, U.S. regulatory agencies require all new products to have a 13.0 SEER rating or better.
A homeowner who installs a 16 SEER, 3-ton system can save $2,070 in operating costs in the lifespan of their system over a 13 SEER, 3-ton system and will prevent nearly 30,000 pounds of greenhouse gases from being released, equivalent to removing 3 cars from the road each year or planting 4 acres of forest.
*Assumes 2985 cooling hours, electricity cost of $0.113/kWh, and an operating life of 12 years.
AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) is the standard measurement of efficiency for gas fired furnaces and boilers. Given in percentages, this number tells you how much of your fuel is used to heat your home and how much fuel is wasted. The higher the AFUE rating, the greater the efficiency.
Cost Savings: If you have an older furnace (with an AFUE of approximately 60%), you could save up to 40% on your heating bills by replacing it with a new high efficiency furnace! The cost to replace your old, inefficient furnace is paid back through lower utility bills.
HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) is the efficiency measurement used to gauge the efficiency of the heating mode of heat pumps. The higher the number, the greater the efficiency and cost-savings. Today’s models are required to have a 6.8 HSPF.
Cost Savings. Higher efficiency in heat pumps and air conditioners usually means higher equipment cost but lower utility bills. If you live in a warm and/or humid climate, you will probably see the higher cost of a high efficiency air conditioner or heat pump paid back (through lower utility bills) in a few short years. Ask your sales consultant to help you determine about how long it would take you to recover the additional cost in energy savings. Of course, after the payback, you continue to save on your energy bills.
Matching Your System for Optimum Efficiency
One additional factor that affects the efficiency of your air conditioning or heat pump system is your indoor coil. If your condensing unit is not matched with the proper indoor coil, it may not give you the stated SEER and/or HSPF ratings and could even develop performance problems. When you replace an existing system, make sure you replace both units, so your new condensing unit will give you optimal performance, efficiency and comfort.