I Save Money?
Shopping for bottom line price is easy. But, will the lowest
priced system end up costing you money in the long run with
higher operating costs or by needing to be replaced sooner?
Will the lowest priced system provide the comfort you expect?
Comparing energy efficiency of different brands
of heating and cooling equipment is relatively easy. Although
the rating systems are standardized, allowing you to make
a fair comparison, there are three different rating systems
used. Each rating is used for a specific type of product(in
other words, all furnaces use the same system, heat pumps
use a different system, an so on). They are:
AFUE (gas heating)
HSPF (heat pump heating)
AFUE (gas heating)
The efficiency of a furnace is measured in a rating known
as AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency). A lot like your
car’s miles per gallon rating, AFUE tells you how efficiently
the furnace converts fuel (gas or oil) into heat. An AFUE
of 80% means that 80% of the fuel is used to heat your home,
while the other 20% basically goes up the chimney.
The government mandated a minimum AFUE rating for furnaces
installed in new homes is 78%. (In contrast, many furnaces
manufactured before 1992 had AFUE ratings as low as 60% —
so nearly half the fuel was being wasted.) Furnaces with AFUE
ratings of 78% to 80% are considered "mid-efficiency";
those with ratings of 90% or higher are known as "high
efficiency." The maximum furnace efficiency available
is around 96.6%.
In general, a higher efficiency furnace usually means two
lower monthly operating cost
If you have an older furnace (with an AFUE of about 60%),
you could save up to 60% on your heating bills by replacing
it with a new high-efficiency furnace. So the cost to replace
your old, inefficient furnace is paid back through lower utility
If you live in a cold climate, you could see a payback in
a few short years. If you live in a moderate climate, it might
make more sense to purchase a mid-efficiency furnace. Pro-Air
can use heating data from your area to help you determine
about how long it would take you to recover the additional
cost of a high-efficiency model in energy savings. (Of course,
after the payback, you continue to save on your energy bills
for the life of the system.)
Cooling efficiency for air conditioners and heat pumps is
indicated by a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating,
which tells you how efficiently a unit uses electricity. The
higher the number, the greater the efficiency.
The typical SEER rating of units manufactured prior to 1992
is about 6.0.Now, the government mandated minimum is 10.0
SEER. High-efficiency units have a SEER of at least 12.0;
the maximum available is about 17.
HSPF (heat pump heating)
Heat pumps also have heating efficiency ratings, indicated
as an HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor). In general,
the higher the HSPF rating, the less electricity the unit
will use to heat your home.
The government mandated minimum heating efficiency standards
for new heat pumps is 6.8 HSPF. Most heat pumps manufactured
before 1992 have HSPF ratings below 5.0. Today, an HSPF of
7.5 or higher is considered "high-efficiency"; the
maximum available is 10.0.
Higher efficiency in heat pumps and air conditioners usually
means higher 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
Pro-Air 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
There’s one other factor that affects the efficiency
of your air conditioning or heat pump system: the indoor coil.
(Your heat pump or air conditioner is a "split system,"
which means that there is an outdoor unit, or condenser, and
an indoor unit, or evaporator 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. (It’s kind of like putting two
new tires on one side of your car and leaving the old, worn-out
ones on the other side. You’d probably be disappointed
with both the performance and the miles per gallon you get.)
When you’re replacing an existing system, make sure
you replace both units so your new condensing unit will give
you optimal performance, efficiency and comfort.