If you want to make sure your HVAC always provides the cost-effective comfort you want, you’ll have to pay attention to the way it uses energy. An HVAC that uses the least amount of energy possible when changing the temperature in your space is one that will save you money each month on utility bills. However, an HVAC that takes large amounts of power to effect a change in the atmosphere of your building often ends up costing more than it’s worth over long periods of use. Of course, the best way to improve your HVAC energy efficiency is to learn about the major factors that affect it. We’re going to help by providing some vital information for you.
Six major factors will affect your HVAC energy efficiency, and it pays to know about all of them—so let’s start! By the time you’ve finished this list, you’ll understand more about how to purchase an energy efficient HVAC, or why your HVAC uses power the way it does.
The Six Main Factors that Affect HVAC Energy Efficiency
Efficiency Ratings: EER, SEER, AFUE, and HSPF
All HVAC units come with energy efficiency ratings: EER and SEER for air conditioners; AFUE and HSPF for furnaces. Here’s a quick run-down of each:
- EER is the Energy Efficiency Ratio for your air conditioner. It pertains to the efficiency of the unit at a specific baseline temperature, used as a benchmark to compare different options.
- SEER is the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio for your air conditioner. It refers to the efficiency of the unit during a range of temperatures in a typical cooling season. However, SEER is only accurate for air conditioners working in areas with specific average summer temperature. If the summer temperature in your area is significantly higher or lower than 83 degrees Fahrenheit, using EER may be a better way to figure out how efficient your AC is.
- AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency and is used to measure the efficiency of your furnace. Units with high AFUE burn less fuel to warm the air in your space, making them more efficient.
- HSPF stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, and it is explicitly used to gauge the efficiency of heat pumps.
How Old is Your Unit?
Older units are usually less energy efficient than new ones for two reasons. Firstly, technology has evolved to become more energy-efficient in recent years. Secondly, as an HVAC becomes older, it naturally loses a certain amount of its energy efficiency. Most HVACs are only designed to last 15-25 years, even with proper care—so don’t be afraid to replace an ancient system if its operating costs are climbing drastically.
Multi-Stage or Single Stage?
Many older HVAC systems operate on what is called a “single stage” basis. They run at one set level of power usage when changing the temperature in your home, then turn off when the desired temperature has been achieved. “Multi-stage” units are different—they change their power settings to conserve energy whenever possible, and usually only draw substantial amounts of power when a drastic temperature change must take place quickly. As such, multi-stage units tend to be more energy efficient than their single stage counterparts.
Variable Speed Blowers
Variable speed blowers use the same principle as multi-stage systems. However, whereas a multi-stage HVAC changes the power settings of the unit itself, a variable speed blower changes the amount of power it uses to operate the blower fan—which pumps air through the ductwork.
Sizing and Installation
All the previous items on this list are necessary, but they depend on having an HVAC that is properly sized and installed. Sizing refers to the cooling or heating capacity of your AC and furnace. Simply put, different cooling and heating capacities are only appropriate for spaces of a specific size. Make sure the Btu rating on your model corresponds to the square footage of your home, and be sure to factor in aspects such as the number of windows and type of insulation in your walls. If you are unsure of how to do this, contact a qualified HVAC professional who will be able to perform the necessary calculations on your behalf.
Even the most efficient HVAC system must be cared for diligently if you want it to remain that way. Have a licensed technician visit you once or twice each year to diagnose any faults in the system or recommend procedures that would improve its efficiency. Doing so can prevent surprise breakdowns from occurring, as well as lower your regular monthly running costs.
HVAC Energy Efficiency is Possible
It’s easy to keep your HVAC energy efficient when you follow the steps above. Take excellent care of your cooling and heating systems, and they’ll take excellent care of you—no matter how extreme the weather outside becomes.