If you’ve been opening your recent utility bills and experiencing some sticker shock, then you’re not alone.  Minnesotan homeowners, like you, are feeling the crunch of rising energy costs, and are searching for ways to spend less on things like gas, energy, and utility bills. One idea for saving your budget when it comes to heating and cooling your home is to replace your current HVAC system with a high efficiency system. Sure, the initial costs are high to replace your whole system, but if you’ve been wondering if it’s worth the investment – then keep reading.


Unpacking high efficiency equipment

If it’s been a while since you’ve replaced your furnace or AC, you may be wondering what constitutes high efficiency when it comes to HVAC systems. Since central heating and air became a must-have in the 1970s, energy efficiency has improved and evolved. Energy efficiency is measured in the furnace or air conditioner’s ability to produce warm or cool air respectively to provide comfort to your home vs. how much energy is being exhausted as waste. Energy efficient HVAC equipment uses more energy to heat or cool and has less energy being wasted.


Furnace efficiency & AFUE

Your furnace efficiency is rated by AFUE which stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency.  This measures the furnace efficiency and uses percentages up to 100% to identify how much usable heat is produced by a furnace. For a gas furnace, 80% AFUE means the furnace puts out 80 BTUs (British Thermal Unit) for every 100 BTUs of natural gas it burns. The higher the percentage for AFUE, the more efficient your furnace is. High efficiency furnaces are typically rated between an AFUE rating of 90-97%.


Air conditioners & SEER ratings

Your air conditioner’s SEER rating measures how efficiently a system will operate over an entire season.  SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency rating, and is calculated by comparing the cooling output of your unit over a typical summer season to the amount of energy your unit consumes over time. Most AC units manufactured after 2005 comply with the federal minimum SEER rating of 13.  Higher SEER ratings will cost more upfront, but will be more energy efficient. For example, if your AC was manufactured before 2005 and has a SEER rating of 9, and you upgrade to a SEER rating of 15, you would use 40% less power to get the same level of comfort in your home.


Finding your efficiency rating

The best place to start evaluating whether a high efficiency system is worth it is to identify your current ratings. You can find the efficiency ratings for your HVAC system on the sticker found on the faceplate of your equipment. If you can’t find it there, you can always look up your manufacturer and model online to check your AFUE and SEER ratings.


How a high efficiency HVAC system can save you money

New high efficiency furnaces come with significant upfront costs. However, installing a high efficiency HVAC system will save you money over time.  Here’s some ways you can save:


  • Lower utility costs. Once you install your new high efficiency equipment, you should start seeing lower utility costs right away. Aging HVAC systems become less efficient over time costing you more each month through electricity and gas bills. If you’re ready to replace your old units for high efficiency, look for the Energy Star label and a SEER rating of at least 14 or higher for your AC, and an AFUE rating of 90% for your furnace. Trading your current system for a more energy efficient one can reduce your energy consumption by 20% or more.
  • Energy company rebates. Did you know that your utility companies offer rebates when you purchase new energy efficient equipment? Rebates from electric and gas companies can save you in the long run.
  • Reduced repair costs. One last way to save with a new energy efficient system is reducing those repair costs. If you’ve had your system for a while, you may have noticed an increase in service appointments or replacement costs. This can add up in addition to rising energy costs in today’s economy. Investing in a new energy efficient system will reduce the need for repairs and give you peace of mind that you are maximizing your savings while keeping your home comfortable all year long.


One last thing to consider when it comes to investing in a high efficiency HVAC system.  Most consumers report that their high efficiency furnace and AC has paid for itself in utility savings and rebates within 3-5 years of purchase. If you’re ready to lower utility bills and repair costs with a new high efficiency system, we’re ready to help. Just call our office to get started.