Understanding Home Energy Efficiency

Understanding the home energy efficiency rating of your home comfort system is key to energy savings and increased comfort.

With older equipment you may experience decreased performance and higher energy bills without even being aware of the cause. With higher efficiency equipment you’ll experience increased energy savings which translates into lower utility bills and more money in your pocket.

Home energy efficiency is a factor of how much power it takes to do a useful amount of work. There are two efficiency ratings for cooling: SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) and EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio). There are also two for heating: AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) and HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor.

Let’s take a look at the universal standard ratings for home energy efficiency which makes it easy for you to compare performance of different systems.

AFUE – Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency
AFUE is the terminology used for your gas furnace. The AFUE helps to determine the actual, season-long, average efficiency of heating equipment. It measures the amount of heat actually delivered throughout your home against the amount of fuel your furnace actually uses. As an example; a furnace with an AFUE of 80 uses 80% of the fuel to heat your home while the remainder or 20% goes out your flue. The higher the number, the more efficient it is. The U.S. Department of Energy determined that all furnaces sold in the U.S. must have a minimum AFUE of 78%.

SEER – Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio
SEER Is used to measure your air conditioners cooling efficiency. . Are you getting your money’s worth out of your air conditioner? Determining the SEER of your unit will help. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, the comparative method used to judge how efficiently your air conditioner performs. It’s one way to see if you’re getting real value out of the energy dollars you spend. The higher a unit’s SEER, the higher your unit’s energy efficiency, and the more efficiently your unit uses power. In January 2006 it became mandatory for all cooling units to have a minimum 13 SEER. Effective power use means you’re getting the best value for your energy dollar.

HSPF – Heating Seasonal Performance Factor
The HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) is the most commonly used measure of the heating efficiency of heat pumps. New heat pumps manufactured after 2005 are required to have an HSPF of at least 6.8. The most efficient heat pumps have an HSPF rating of 10. The HSPF is a heat pump’s estimated seasonal heating output in BTUs divided by the amount of energy that it consumes in watt-hours. Typically, a high efficiency air conditioner or heat pump pays for itself in savings in a few years. Heat pumps are also rated by SEER for cooling efficiency. Because we live in the Pacific Northwest, the HSPF is a more important consideration than SEER due to our longer heating season.

Understanding home energy efficiency is an important ingredient when selecting a new heating and cooling system. Look for a YORK heating and cooling contractor to help you make the perfect choice.


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