Like many other appliances, the cost of your indoor comfort system includes not only its initial price but also the ongoing costs of operation and maintenance. The heating and cooling system typically accounts for more than 40% of a home’s annual energy costs. This means that the heating and cooling equipment and controls that you select today will continue to impact your finances for as long as you live in your home. That’s why investing in a high-efficiency comfort system makes sense.
The type of fuel used by a system is a major contributor to its operational cost. This graph shows the comparison cost of common fuel sources and system types.
Rating Systems & Efficiency Factors
Furnaces are rated by the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratio, which is the percent of heat produced for every dollar of fuel consumed. The higher the AFUE rating, the lower your fuel costs.
Cooling systems are rated by SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). Every $100 you spend to cool your home using a 10 SEER system, you would spend considerably less using a system of 12 SEER or higher. For example, if your annual cooling costs were $1,000 with a 10 SEER system, they could be reduced to $710 with a 14 SEER system.
Heat pumps are rated in terms of HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor). In general, the higher the HSPF rating, the less electricity the unit will use to do its job.
In 1992, the federal government established the minimum heating efficiency standard for new heat pumps at 6.8 HSPF. (Most heat pumps manufactured before 1992 had HSPF ratings below 5.) The minimum HSPF standard changed again in 2006 to an HSPF of 7.7. Today, an HSPF of 8.2 or higher is considered “high-efficiency”; the maximum available is 9.35.
Maintaining 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 between 40 to 60%. This will reduce the load on your equipment and can save 10 to 15% in cooling costs.
Zoning and Scheduling
Programmable thermostats and zoning allow you to control system usage according to your family’s lifestyle and daily occupancy schedule. This reduces wasted energy from heating or cooling areas in your home that are unused or unoccupied.
Keeping Equipment Clean
Regularly scheduled maintenance is crucial to maintaining your system’s maximum efficiency. The use of indoor air quality products will also help maintain your system’s optimum performance.