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HVAC energy efficiency and why it's so important

Modern, high efficient HVAC units outside a house.

It’s critical to run an energy-efficient heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) system in your home or business. It is better for the environment and saves you money on your electric bills. It also ensures that your system lasts longer and improves comfort.

But how can you gauge the energy efficiency of your existing HVAC system or the one you plan to install? This article will cover SEER ratings for your air conditioning, AFUE ratings for your furnace and the benefits of running an Energy Star-certified unit. Finally, you’ll learn what to do if your unit falls short.

This article is sponsored by Preferred Air Conditioning & Mechanical.

Wanna sponsor? Email

What is a SEER Rating?

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. A higher rating equates to better energy efficiency for your AC. The SEER rating can be found in your AC manual and on the unit. To calculate the SEER rating, manufacturers measure the cooling output of a unit divided by its energy used in watt-hours. The SEER rating of most modern AC units is between 13 and 22. Older units can have SEER ratings as low as 8. The minimum standard rating is 14 in the Southern United States.

What is an AFUE Rating?

Although less used in South Florida, the AFUE ratings measure the efficiency of furnaces. Like SEER ratings, they are calculated by dividing a system’s output by the energy consumed. An AFUE rating of 90% means that 90% of the energy burned in your furnace goes to heating your home, while the heating process consumes the other 10%.

Unlike a SEER rating, which takes these measurements over the course of a season, AFUE ratings are measured annually. The minimum U.S. standard for new furnaces is 80%. An AFUE rating over 90% is considered very good and over time can prove to be a worthwhile investment.

What is Energy Star Certification?

Energy Star is a program pioneered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help consumers find HVAC products that are energy efficient. Energy Star-certified units save you money while protecting the environment. Energy Star-certified AC units require a 14.5 SEER rating at minimum, while gas furnaces require at least a 90% AFUE rating. Oil furnaces require a minimum 85% AFUE rating.

How else can you tell if your HVAC system is energy efficient?

Make observations around your home, such as when your unit is noisier than usual or takes longer to heat or cool an area. Other signs that your system isn’t working at peak efficiency are hot and cold spots in your home and increased humidity. Also be on the alert for higher-than-usual energy bills, and note how often you need to have your system serviced. Older HVAC systems are less likely to be energy efficient.

Thank you to Preferred Air Conditioning & Mechanical for sponsoring.


This article covered the importance of energy efficiency for your HVAC system. But what should you do if your system is running inefficiently?

Routine maintenance is the best way to keep your system in good working order, both basic homeowner maintenance, such as regular air filter changes, and annual professional maintenance. And if you end up needing to replace your system, the new one will almost certainly have higher energy efficiency.


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