Upgrading to a More Energy Efficient HVAC System
Selecting the RIGHT Heating and Cooling Equipment and Systems for Maximum Energy Efficiency!
If you’ve done all you can to improve the energy and cost efficiency of your home’s current HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Cooling) system, but nothing seems to work, it may be time for an upgrade. If your system is more than 15 years old, it’s probably time to replace it with a newer, more efficient model. Today’s state-of-the-art HVAC systems offer far superior heating and cooling performance and cost much less to operate than the heaters and air conditioners of 10, 20 and 30 years ago.
Before you commit to such a significant investment in your home, make sure you understand the different types of HVAC systems out there and do your research to find the one that’s right for your home.
- Furnaces: Furnaces are probably the most common type of residential heating system. Most furnaces are gas-powered, but they can run on oil, propane, or electricity. Heat is delivered to the different areas of the home through a series of ducts, vents, and registers. Energy-efficient furnaces usually use blower motors—either electronically commutated motors or some other type of air circulating fan.
- Boilers: A boiler produces heat by burning propane, oil, or gas to heat steam or water. The hot water then circulates through pipes in baseboards, radiators, or radiant heat flooring instead of ducts. Energy Star rated boilers have several features that help improve their energy efficiency including electronic ignition switches (which eliminates the need of a constantly-burning pilot light), and other features that extract a greater amount of heat by using the same amount of fuel.
- Central Air Conditioners: Most residential air conditioning systems are split systems: There is an outdoor unit that houses a condenser and compressor, and an indoor component that has an evaporator coil. Both of these components must be replaced at the same time, or you’ll end up with low efficiency and possible system failure. There are two measurements most commonly used to determine efficiency. Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) measures how efficiently an air conditioner will operate through an entire season; Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) measures how efficiently a system will operate when the outdoor temperature is 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Some experts recommend replacing your furnace at the same time as your air conditioning system, as they both use the same blower motor and ductwork.
- Heat Pumps: Heat pumps produce both warm and cool air in a single integrated unit. Two types to consider:
Electric air-source heat pumps (ASHPs) are often used in moderate climate regions, and take the difference between outdoor air and indoor air temperatures to determine appropriate levels of heating and cooling inside the home. ASHPs have higher SEER and EER ratings than other models, and rank higher on the Heating and Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF), which measures overall heating efficiency.
Geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) use natural heat from the ground to warm the air inside your home. Because GHPs use a completely natural heat source, they are the most efficient heating system available. The initial cost of these systems can be significantly higher than that of other units, but the savings they produce on energy costs is substantial. Most units pay for themselves in less than a year. GHPs require ducts and are most often installed in new residential construction.