Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Finding the right heating and cooling system for your house can be a little overwhelming. Here are the answers to some of the most common questions we get asked.

By selecting products with the recommended efficiency ratings for your area, you can save on your utility bill. Compare the purchase price and operating costs of similarly rated products for an apples-to-apples comparison. Also, the Department of Energy (DOE) has established minimum efficiencies that require heating and cooling products to be significantly more energy-efficient than products manufactured prior to 1992.

No. Make sure your new system will meet your comfort requirements! Things like quiet operation, even-air-flow and moisture control all affect your system’s overall performance and your comfort level. And not all systems are created equal! Check to be sure that your system operates to your required specifications.

Ask what maintenance or service plans a dealer offers. Regular maintenance on heating and cooling equipment will ensure that it continues to perform efficiently for years.

Many times you can offset the investment cost by savings on your monthly utility bills. By estimating efficiency savings, you can approximate how long it would take for the new unit to pay for itself. For example, if it costs $3,000 to install, but saves you $65 every month, it will pay for itself in less than four years.

Yes. Ask what financing options are available. Many dealers participate in manufacturer-sponsored finance programs that let you make convenient monthly payments. If you are also saving money on your utility bill every month, it can help offset the monthly payment for the system!

Only a few years ago, our industry responded to global needs to conserve energy by improving the efficiency performance of heating and cooling equipment. So, if you have a central furnace, air conditioner or heat pump system with equipment manufactured before the 1992 Department of Energy (DOE) established new efficiency standards, there’s a good chance your heating and cooling fuel bills are 20-40% higher than they need to be. Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promotes high efficiency products through its Energy Star Program.

The DOE set up a system to measure central heating and air conditioning efficiency performance. Today, you can easily use this information to help you in your system selection. Your actual savings will depend on the weather in your area, utility costs, your home’s energy efficiency, and your preferences for indoor temperatures. However, generally, in areas with hot temperatures or above-average electric costs, you can benefit from a higher-SEER cooling unit. Likewise in areas with colder temperatures or above-average fuel costs, you’ll usually benefit from a higher-AFUE gas furnace. In practical terms, you can compare annual operating costs of two cooling systems just by knowing their efficiency ratings.

SEER stands for Season Energy Efficiency Ratio and applies to central air conditioners and heat pumps. The minimum set by the Department of Energy is 13 SEER and for Energy Star, 14 SEER. The higher the SEER, the greater the energy economy.

Gas furnaces use Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) as their measurement. The higher the AFUE, the greater the efficiency and the greater your energy savings potential. Because some of the heating potential of fuels is lost during furnace operation, no furnace is considered 100% energy-efficient. The AFUE tells you the amount of fuel burned that actually goes toward heating your home on an annual basis. Prior to the 1992 federal regulations, most gas furnaces were built with standard efficiencies ranging from 60% to 78% AFUE. These are the furnaces that are being replaced today. For example, if you have one of these older furnaces with an efficiency of 65%, then out of every dollar you spend on fuel, $0.35 goes up the chimney! If you replace it with a new 90%+ AFUE furnace, then, of every dollar spent on fuel, less than $0.10 goes up the chimney—a 40% increase in savings!

Heat pumps use Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) as their measurement. The higher the HSPF, the greater the efficiency and the greater your energy savings potential.

Your installing dealer follows our published recommendations for matching the various components required. For example, split system air conditioners include a condensing unit that’s located outside your house and an evaporator coil that’s located inside your house with your furnace or air handler. Your dealer must take special care to match the condensing unit selected to its corresponding evaporator coil. For any split system air conditioner to deliver its rated efficiency and performance, both the outside condensing unit and the indoor cooling coil must be matched. For example, if you have a new condensing unit put in, but don’t have the indoor coil updated, you won’t get the maximum cooling energy efficiency.