Over the last decade, it has been easier to find efficient HVAC equipment that incorporates better technology that will lower your energy bills, especially if you’re running a heating or cooling system that’s 10 years or older. This guide can help you learn the basics about efficiency ratings for HVAC equipment.
Combustion heating equipment efficiency is measured by its AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency). The federal minimum for new furnaces currently stands at 80 percent, which means that 20 percent of the fuel used by the furnace is wasted. Systems are available that reach nearly 99 percent AFUE. Although these systems cost more initially, operating costs over the life of the furnace will defray much or all of that extra cost. This is especially the case if you take other steps to increase energy efficiency in your home, such as sealing air leaks and adding insulation.
Condensing furnaces boast AFUE ratings of 90 percent and higher, and have the ability to remove heat from exhaust gases before they’re vented out of the home. They often come with other advanced features such as variable speed blower motors and two-stage gas valves. An AFUE 95 percent or higher furnace may qualify you for a $150 federal energy tax credit if it’s installed before the end of 2013.
Central air conditioners and heat pumps are rated by their SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio), which is an average of cooling efficiency over the course of a cooling season. The minimum stands at 13, and SEER ratings rise well into the 20s. Each increased number in the SEER uses 10 percent less electricity under laboratory testing conditions. A central A/C or heat pump that meets minimum efficiency requirements may get you a $300 federal energy tax credit.
A heat pump carries another rating that describes its heating efficiency, HSPF (heating season performance factor), whose minimum is 7.7 and can go as high as 10. Heat pumps are used for all-season comfort in our climate, especially if your home is as energy efficient as possible, the heat pump is correctly sized, and your ductwork is designed efficiently and tightly sealed.
To learn more about efficient HVAC equipment, please contact us online or call us at (503) 266-1249. We’ve provided outstanding HVAC services for Portland area homeowners since 1976.