A Buyer’s Guide Energy Efficiency

With all the talk about saving energy, saving the environment, lowering your “carbon footprint” and being more eco-friendly, the average Joe can get a little confounded.

The efficiency of an appliance or energy system indicates the amount of energy used to perform a certain amount of work. The higher its energy consumption per unit of output, the less efficient the system.Like many other appliances, the lifetime cost of your indoor comfort system comprises its initial price and the ongoing costs of operation and maintenance. This means the cooling and heating systems you select today will continue to impact your finances for many years to come.For these reasons, investing in a high-efficiency comfort system makes sense.

Here are some standard ratings you may find when making a purchase:

AFUE – (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency)
A standard measurement of gas or oil burning efficiency. It’s how the efficiency of furnaces and boilers are rated. A higher AFUE percentage means a more efficient product.
COP – (Coefficient of Performance)
The measurement of how efficiently a heating or cooling system will operate at a single outdoor temperature condition. When applied to the heating modes of heat pumps, that temperature condition is usually 47°F. The higher the COP, the more efficient the system.
EER – (energy efficiency ratio)
A measure of how efficiently a cooling system will operate when the outdoor temperature is at a specific level (usually 95° F). The term EER is most commonly used when referring to window and unitary air conditioners and heat pumps, as well as water-source and geothermal heat pumps. A higher EER means the system is more efficient.
ENERGY STAR
A program launched by the Environmental Protection Agency. Products bearing the Energy Star logo have met EPA’s stringent requirements for efficient use of our natural resources.
HSPF – (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor)
A standard measurement of electrical power as applied to heating with a heat pump. A higher HSPF rating means a more efficient product.
R-Value
The measurement of how effectively a material resists the transfer of heat via conduction or, in other words, how well insulating is a material? The higher the R-value, the less heat transfer can take place.
SEER – (Standard Energy efficiency Ratio)
A standard measurement of electrical efficiency as applied to cooling with an air conditioner or heat pump. A higher SEER rating means a more efficient product.
U-Value
The measurement of how much heat can be conducted through a building component (such as a wall or window). How poor of an insulator is an object? The higher the U-value, the more heat the material(s) will allow to be transferred through it.

Other Energy efficiency Factors

Although the efficiency of your cooling and heating equipment will have the greatest impact on your energy usage, other factors can help reduce energy costs such as:

Maintain Proper Humidity
When cooling during the warm humid months, you will feel more comfortable at a higher temperature if the humidity level in your home is kept at 40-60%. This will reduce the load on your equipment and can save up to 20% in cooling costs.

Condition Only Occupied Rooms
Zoning or programmable thermostats can control your equipment according to your family’s lifestyle and daily occupancy schedule. This allows you to eliminate the wasted energy of air conditioned areas in your home that are unused or unoccupied.

Keep Equipment Clean
Regularly scheduled professional maintenance is also crucial to maintaining your system’s maximum efficiency. Your system should be checked twice a year prior to the summer and winter months. 

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