A recent survey published by ACHR News shows that the majority of homeowners who are replacing their HVAC equipment are going for the mid-range in efficiency ratings. The survey said 46 percent of the respondents purchased mid-level products with a SEER rating of 14-18 and a 90 percent AFUE. SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, is primarily related to the efficiency of air conditioners. The higher the number, the more efficiently the unit uses power. AFUE refers to Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, and it measures the amount of heat actually delivered to your home vs. the amount of fuel you must supply to the furnace. Minimum set by the EPA is 78 percent.
Products with a SEER of 13 and AFUE of 80 percent, a low-level efficiency, were purchased by 34 percent of the survey respondents, and 20 percent of respondents bought the high-end products with a 20+ SEER and 95+ percent AFUE. The survey results are not surprising. Some manufacturers are offering rebates for the purchase of a unit with a 15 or higher SEER, which would be an incentive to buy at the mid-range. Now that summer is coming, more attention may be paid to air conditioning, but remember that your system spends three times as many hours heating as cooling in the Maryland seasons. Paying attention to the efficiency of the heat pump is important. In addition, a cold winter like Marylanders had this year requires more work from the heat pump. It works harder all around – in the winter months, the system is trying to make up an average 50-60-degree difference, if you keep your thermostat at 68 degrees. In the summer, it’s about 20 degrees, if the AC is set at 75 degrees. If you are replacing your HVAC system, don’t be lulled into a false sense of environmentalism by looking only at the SEER number. Evaluate the heat pump efficiency and buy the best you can afford.