Having an energy-efficient HVAC system for your home is important. It’s important for the health, safety, and comfort of your family. It’s also important to your budget. You also want the HVAC to have a long, effective lifespan, which can save big bucks in the long run. But, how can you tell if your HVAC is energy efficient? Are you paying more energy bills? Is it running as it should? What about if it’s time to get a new system anyway? There are some ways to get a good read on your home HVAC system.
Know the SEER
The SEER rating – Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio – measures the energy efficiency of an HVAC or AC system. It’s a measure of the unit’s output in a normal cooling season in a ratio to the quantity of energy used in that time.
A unit’s SEER rating should be located in the unit’s owner’s manual or somewhere on the unit itself. The higher the score, the better. Current AC units in the U.S. should have a SEER rating from 14-22. 14 is the minimum rating allowed in the Southern U.S. Older units may have a SEER rating under 10.
Hot and Cold Spots in the House
If your HVAC is efficient, it will keep a consistent temperature throughout all areas and rooms of the house. If you’re finding hot and cold spots, or differences depending on the time of day, the sunlight, or any other odd inconsistencies, you might need a check-up or a maintenance visit. An HVAC system should be designed and run well enough to keep everything in a home consistent. Bad insulation in ducts or in general in a home may be another factor.
Know the AFUE
The AFUE rating – Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency – measures how efficient a furnace is. It’s the measure of heat output by a system with the total fuel consumed over a year. An AFUE rating of 90 means 90% of the fuel a system uses goes to putting heat into the house. The other 10% is used for other needed functions in the furnace. A 90 or higher AFUE is considered good energy efficiency. A new furnace is required to be at least a 78 AFUE. The higher the AFUE, the more cost-efficient it is for your utility bill.
Check Your Utility Bills
Is your energy bill what you expect it to be each month? If you see a huge jump out of nowhere or a steady rise even when there’s no major July heat wave, this could be telling you to check your HVAC’s health. It could be running, but struggling to be efficient. A major rise can be a sign something is wrong.
If you think this is what’s going on, check more of your old bills. It could be seasonal, or it could be a problem you need to address. It could be time to contact a professional. Hopefully, maintenance on the system will be all it needs.
The Energy Star Standard
The U.S. EPA’s Energy Star Program helps people know more about energy usage and the environmental impact of products. The Energy Star standards and ratings go hand in hand with SEER and AFUE scores. For instance, to meet the Energy Star program, an AC unit has to have a 14.5 SEER rating and a 90% AFUE rating. Heating and air units with the Energy Star certification are supposed to give you savings of 20% or more on energy bills.
Humidity in Your House
Along with temperature control, is your HVAC, especially the cooling part in a Carolina summer, controlling the humidity like you expect and need? You should have a comfortable humidity level inside. High humidity is an indication your system isn’t functioning as it should. Not only is this a comfort thing, but it can also be unhealthy. It can also mean you’re paying more because the system’s running all the time.
In some cases, dirty or worn coils will lead to out-of-control humidity. The dirtier or more clogged the coils, the less efficient the whole system is with cooling and taking moisture out of the air. It’s worth it to get proper, pro maintenance done, including checking and cleaning coils, at the start of each spring. One bad part of an HVAC system can ruin the entire system’s efficiency and functioning.
What’s my HVAC’s Age?
Even with good maintenance and staying on top of filters, ratings, cleaning, and everything, HVAC systems will get old. An old system will become less efficient, and may just be less efficient than newer, better models that come along.
New HVAC systems have tech able to use the best, most energy-efficient, performance. Along with saving energy, new units are generally quieter and easier to run more effectively than something a decade or two old.
With an old unit, regular use with proper maintenance will mean some loss of efficiency. If the system needed repairs, it’s more likely to have some drop-off.
If you’re having to think about repairing vs. replacing, you want to know the age and services that have been done on the HVAC units. Most units have a lifespan of 15-20 years. If your unit is toward the backend of that span, it’s time to consider if paying for a repair is worth it. The expert pro you turn to should be able to help with a reliable, honest answer to repair vs. replace. You want to make such an important investment wisely.
At South End Heating and Air, we specialize in HVAC and furnace repair, call us for a free consult. We’ll evaluate your system and help make recommendations for optimum value. After all, we want to keep you cool all summer long and warm in the winter. Just schedule a visit with one of our technicians to talk about how we can help with your heating needs. Would you like to learn more options our techs can help you with? Give us a call 704-684-5339.