The EnergyStar label appears on numerous home appliances today, signaling products that meet EPA standards for efficiency. In addition to minimizing energy consumption, the program aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that result from excessive energy usage. The label is intended to help consumers as they look for options that will lower utility bills without compromising the service received from the appliance or system in question. If you are considering an HVAC upgrade, your contractor can help you to find systems that meet the program standards.
Efficiency Improvements in the HVAC Industry
Leading manufacturers in the HVAC industry are constantly working to improve on design, efficiency levels and features to provide consumers with the best comfort and performance options available. Additionally, the government adjusts its standards to encourage better use of natural resources. Heating and cooling standards today are higher than those in place just a decade ago, leading to the opportunity to increase comfort and performance in your home while enjoying lower utility bills.
Minimum standards for manufacture of new equipment ensure that products installed in homes will provide reasonable efficiency levels. However, EnergyStar products are significantly more efficient than those meeting minimum standards. The following minimum efficiency levels are required for HVAC equipment to meet the standards for the EnergyStar label:
- Gas furnaces must have an AFUE of at least 95 percent
- Oil furnaces designated by the label must have an AFUE of at least 85 percent
- Air-source heat pumps must have a minimum HSPF of 8.2 and a minimum SEER of 14.5 in a split system
- Central air conditioners must attain a minimum SEER of 14.5 in a split system
Incentives for a High Efficiency HVAC Upgrade
While lowering your utility bills is a great reason to consider a system upgrade, there are some additional options to watch for at local and national levels. For example, utility companies and manufacturers offer rebates at times for those who install eligible equipment. The federal government offers a federal energy tax credit for geothermal heating and cooling systems (expires in 2016).
To receive available rebates, HVAC systems must meet certain efficiency requirements. For example, heaters must meet the minimum AFUE of 95 percent. Similarly, you can get as much as 10 percent back on super-efficient heat pumps or central air conditioners.
Efficiency vs. Costs
While an upgrade of old equipment may make a lot of sense for improving home comfort and lowering utility costs, you may find that the pricing on more efficient systems is higher than you expect. It’s important to note that higher efficiency levels may enable you to recover the cost of installation in just a few years of operation. A well-maintained heating and cooling system provide you with up to two decades of service, and the savings achieved because of greater efficiency can be significant. However, if you are in need of an HVAC upgrade but have limited resources, you may find that the efficiency levels attained in systems with lower pricing are sufficient. It’s important to consult with a contractor who is committed to providing you with outstanding service, great products and customized solutions.
Knowing When to Upgrade
If your heating or cooling equipment doesn’t meet your comfort standards, a new system can provide a marked improvement. Constant malfunctions or excessive utility bills may also signal the need to replace your equipment.
You can have an inspection of your system performed to determine whether efficiency levels can be improved. In fact, tune-up services include important cleaning and adjustments that can make a remarkable difference in the performance of your equipment. If your budget isn’t quite ready for an upgrade, system maintenance is critical. This may allow you to keep your unit operating at better efficiency levels until you can save for that higher efficiency system.
Consider a Home Performance Evaluation
An energy audit may also help you in deciding whether or not to upgrade your home’s heating or cooling equipment. An energy audit involves inside and outside evaluation of issues that can contribute to poor efficiency levels. Leaks can be pinpointed, and recommendations for home sealing, insulation and other cost-cutting measures can be made.
United Air Conditioning can help you with any of your HVAC concerns. Whether you are ready to upgrade to an efficient system today or whether you need to get a little more service from your old equipment, we are available throughout the year to assist. You can contact our Largo, FL, office to discuss your needs today.