As a southeast Michigan homeowner, if you are in the market for a new HVAC system no doubt you are concerned about energy efficiency. It is no surprise, considering heating and cooling your home accounts for nearly 50% of your home’s annual energy usage! Ultimately, spending more initially on a quality heating and air-conditioning system will save you money each month on energy bills.
Now comes the most important question – just how do you determine which systems are the most energy efficient? By understanding the lingo and the numbers, it will be simple for you to compare the various equipment available today so you can enjoy peace of mind knowing you are getting the most efficient “bang for your buck.”
Cooling Equipment and SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio
Sounds like Greek, but when you are trying to find the most energy-efficient cooling equipment (whether an air conditioner or heat pump that works to cool your home in summer months), the SEER rating is much like the MPG with your car. Ultimately, it all boils down to how much you get out of your cooling system when compared to how much you put into it.
SEER is a measure of the amount of electricity required to cool your home over the summer season vs. the volume of cool air your air conditioner can produce over that same period. Measured in British thermal units, SEER measures the amount of energy necessary to achieve your desired cooling level in watt-hours vs. the system’s total cooling output.
Government Mandated SEER Ratings
The minimum SEER rating for all air conditioners/heat pumps has been mandated by the government since January 2015; this rating depends on geographic location within the U.S. For Northern regions, a SEER rating of at least 13 is required for air conditioners, and 14 for heat pumps. Those who live in the Southern or Southwest regions must have an air conditioner or heat pump with a minimum 14 SEER rating.
The Higher the SEER Rating, the Higher Efficiency of Your Air Conditioner or Heat Pump
A SEER rating of 16 or higher is recommended for SE Michigan homeowners who desire high-efficiency cooling, which not only provides the ultimate in comfort but will result in significant energy savings over the summer months when compared to older equipment. For instance, the Lennox XC16 air conditioner can save you hundreds in energy costs when compared to cooling systems that are just four or five years old!
The Lennox XC25 variable-capacity air conditioner provides the highest SEER rating on the market and is ultimately the most efficient air conditioner on the market today. Because of its ability to adjust the compressor up or down in tiny increments similar to a dimmer switch, the XC25 uses only the minimal amount of electricity required to maintain the desired temperature you set. Ultimately, homeowners enjoy the least possible amount of wasted energy and a cool, comfortable home.
Heat Pumps, Furnaces, & Other Heating Equipment
The majority of homeowners in the U.S. depend on two popular methods for heating their homes in winter months: electric heat pumps, and gas or oil furnaces. Electric heat pumps work primarily in reverse from your air conditioner to warm your spaces in winter months, moving heat inside your living spaces rather than to the outdoors. If you rely on gas heat, the process involves a flame that heats the heat exchanger along with a hot metal chamber that warms the air as it passes through before being circulated throughout the rooms of your home.
HSPF, or Heating Season Performance Factor, is used to measure electric heat from a heat pump. Similar to SEER, HSPF compares heating to the amount of electricity used, whereas SEER compares cooling to the amount of power used.
To put it in simpler terms, HSPF compares the amount of energy required to generate the heat your heat pump creates over the fall and winter seasons. Again, this measurement is similar to the miles per gallon you get in your vehicle. With a heat pump, homeowners will enjoy significant savings over older equipment by choosing equipment with an HSPF of 8 or higher. Today, the Lennox XP25 is the most energy-conscious heat pump available.
Whether oil or gas, the efficiency of these types of furnaces are determined by AFUE or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. This is essentially a measure of the amount of usable heat generated when heating oil or natural gas is burned in the furnace. High-efficiency furnaces use less gas or oil to produce the same amount of usable heat, so the higher the AFUE, the lower the cost without sacrificing heat or comfort. The minimum AFUE value for a furnace to be considered highly efficient is 90, which means 90% of the fuel burned is converted to usable heat. Currently, the Lennox SLP98V is the quietest, most energy efficient furnace available.
We invite homeowners in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and other areas in southeast Michigan to visit the Lennox Energy Savings Calculator to find out how much you can save by using Lennox cooling and heating equipment. As an Authorized Lennox Dealer, you can rely on Haley Mechanical for only the best in products, installation, and service!