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Questions to Ask When Choosing Energy Efficient HVAC Systems

Shopping for an energy efficient HVAC system is a large investment in your home. As building envelopes become tighter and insulation improves the HVAC system that your home required 20 years ago might not fulfill the same needs today. This is especially true if your house received several energy-saving improvements. Asking the right questions about the products you are considering gives you the information that you need to make an educated decision about the best HVAC system for your home, needs, and budget.


Energy Guide HVAC Energy Savings

What to Ask When Shopping for an Energy Efficient HVAC System

What is the SEER number and HSPF rating?

The Seasonal Energy Efficient Ratio (SEER) on a cooling unit tells you how efficient it is. The Heating Season Performance Factor (HFSP) tells you about the efficiency of a heat pump. Systems with an ENERGY STAR label have a SEER of at least 14.5 and an HSPF of at least 8.2 (the higher the number, the greater the efficiency).

What HVAC size do I need?

An energy efficient HVAC will actually waste energy if it is too big or too small. Instead of just using the size of an existing system, a contractor should also take into account additions and energy-saving upgrades that you’ve invested in your home. System size also matters if you plan to add multiple heating and cooling zones in your home.

What is the best type of HVAC unit for my home?

Heating and cooling units are available as natural gas-powered systems, all-electric units, heat pumps, combination systems, ductless mini splits, and radiant heat systems. Review your comfort standards and heating and cooling needs with a licensed HVAC contractor to learn about the advantages and disadvantages regarding the different types of HVAC units available for your home.

Can you provide me with a free, no-obligation quote?

A good HVAC contractor provides an accurate estimate for an HVAC system, its installation, labor costs, and the options available in writing. This estimate should include the price of parts, energy efficiency-related information and warranty specifications.

What rebates and tax breaks are available for energy-saving HVAC systems?

Investigate local, state, and federal tax laws and energy departments to learn if a system is available for a rebate or tax incentive. In addition, see which manufacturers are offering their own rebates to maximize your savings. A good HVAC contractor will have this information for you.

What are the lifetime operating costs?

When shopping for an HVAC system, look beyond the price and installation costs. Estimate the annual energy costs for your area. Learn how much it costs to maintain the system and if it needs specialized parts that might cost more than others.

What type of air filters does the HVAC unit use?

Some types of HVAC units use specific filters, while others may accommodate different types, such as disposable, washable, or HEPA filters. Learn how often you need to replace or clean the filters, too.

Do I need to replace all of the HVAC equipment?

For an HVAC system to work optimally, it must match the ductwork. Otherwise, you’ll experience energy losses. This could mean finding a heating and cooling system that matches the equipment in your home or replacing the equipment so it matches the system you choose. You may also need a new thermostat.

What does the warranty cover and how long does the coverage last?

Not all warranties are the same. Some offer longer terms and cover different aspects of the HVAC unit. When investigating warranties, also remember to educate yourself on what actions will void them.

Does the HVAC unit have moisture control elements?

A home that’s too dry might make you feel uncomfortable, prolong the life of certain viruses, and can cause wood floors and furniture to crack from the lack of moisture. Too much humidity leads to mold and bacterial growth and can make a space feel too stuffy. Moisture control elements in an HVAC unit keep you comfortable and healthy while preventing unnecessary damage to your belongings.

Shopping for an energy efficient HVAC does not have to be confusing or overwhelming. When you work with a reputable contractor, like AAA, you’ll received personalized assistance for finding the best energy-efficient products for your home and needs. Contact AAA today to schedule a free consultation.

Photo by p.Gordon via CC License 

Every day, our customers are faced with numerous challenges related to the operations of their buildings. They need to keep employees and tenants happy, while at the same time trying to deal with reduced capital and/or maintenance budgets. Often, reduced budgets result in older HVAC equipment not being replaced and once vigorous maintenance programs being scaled back. Not only is this harmful to the long-term condition of the mechanical equipment in a building, it has a tremendous negative impact to the energy consumption of the equipment. This results in higher utility bills and wasted energy.

Building owners, property managers, and facilities staff need to understand the correlation between old, inefficient equipment and wasted energy (money).

One way for them to save money and energy is to consider upgrading their old, inefficient HVAC equipment with new, energy efficient versions.

The following are six important reasons upgrading to newer, energy efficient HVAC equipment makes sense:

  1. Costs less to operate, making it a great investment.
  2. Requires less maintenance, which means less money spent on repair and a consistent and comfortable temperature in your building.
  3. Rebates and incentives are available to reduce costs.
    *AAA Heating and Cooling handles all of the paperwork for a hassle free process
  4. Does not produce Freon and other CFC refrigerants. This reduces the cost of repairing leaks.
    *For older units, the standard refrigerant R22 was $10/lb. two years ago and is now $25/lb. and rising.
  5. Reduces energy consumption. Reducing energy use during peak summer periods in Portland can significantly reduce utility costs by at least 15%.
  6. Reduces energy waste. Portland has mandated that energy use in buildings be reduced. Energy efficient equipment helps meet the goals outlined in ETO’s Buildings Plan.

Always be sure to view these upgrades as investments. You can do this by looking at the life cycle cost benefits of installing the most efficient unit possible. These include factoring in rebates, tax incentives, and annual operating costs from the “base” unit to the most efficient. If this is done properly, you will find the lowest first-cost unit is almost always the most expensive unit to own.

To sum it up, replacing old, inefficient HVAC equipment is environmentally responsible, resulting in lower utility costs, a reduced carbon footprint, improved air quality, and a greener work environment.