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Riley Heating & Air Blog

How to Read and Use Energy Efficiency Ratings

Energy efficiency ratings are important for assessing potential equipment changes in your home, but understanding the significance of ratings and how to use them can be confusing. Higher ratings generally indicate better energy performance potential under optimum circumstances, but additional factors may affect your choices as you consider upgrading your HVAC system. Because of this, it’s important to work with an HVAC professional in choosing the best system components for your home.

Ratings and Their Meanings

Ratings have been established to indicate the performance of heat pumps, air conditioners, furnaces and boilers. Each type of system is subject to minimum ratings at the time of manufacture, an issue determined by the federal government. Higher standards in recent years have led to better energy conservation while improving the environmental impact of home comfort systems. Common energy efficiency ratings include:

  • AFUE – the annual fuel utilization efficiency designates the performance of heating equipment that operates by burning fossil fuels. Expressed as a percentage, this measure indicates the output of heat compared to the fuel input. High-efficiency systems can reach levels of up to 98 percent.
  • HSPF – the heating seasonal performance factor measures the heating efficiency of an air source heat pump. The measure is a ratio of heating output to watt-hours of electricity that are used to moderate a home’s temperature. Levels available range up to 13 in new equipment.
  • SEER – the seasonal energy efficiency ratio represents a ratio of cooling to energy consumption. The measure is used for both air conditioners and air source heat pumps, and levels can exceed 20 in the most efficient systems on the market.

EnergyStar Rated Systems

Many homeowners consider the benefits of EnergyStar systems as they look for the best options for upgrading, recognizing that highly-rated components promise better performance and lower bills. However, it’s also important to realize that higher efficiency levels are often more costly to purchase and install. Your budget plays a significant role in your decision about a new piece of equipment. Eligible EnergyStar systems may provide the opportunity to qualify for a federal tax credit, but this varies from year to year. When such credits are available, it can be beneficial to opt for the more efficient system. It’s also important to realize that higher efficiency levels in new equipment can provide a faster return on the cost of the system.

Getting Better Performance from Any System

If a high-efficiency HVAC component doesn’t fit your budget, you will appreciate that modern systems still provide outstanding improvements over units that are at least a decade old. Meticulous system maintenance is an important factor in obtaining optimum performance from any unit. Use air filters with MERV ratings between eight and 12 to keep dirt infiltration to a minimum. Additionally, you can schedule seasonal tune-ups with Riley Heating & Air Conditioning to ensure that your unit is in top operating condition when it is needed. Contact our Phenix City, AL, office to learn more about new equipment or to service your existing comfort system.

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