Houston HVAC Efficiency Ratings

Choosing a new air conditioning or furnace system can be difficult. Before making a purchase, consider the energy efficiencies and operating characteristics of the systems currently on the market. Many homeowners find that new, highly efficient systems pay for themselves in a short period of time through lower power and gas bills and lower maintenance costs.

Efficiency Ratings. Gas furnace efficiency, or AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency), indicates the percent of fuel burned that is converted into heat for the home. A higher AFUE rating indicates higher efficiency and lower gas bills. Modern gas furnaces are usually rated between 80% and 97% AFUE. In comparison, AFUE ratings for many old furnaces fall between 50% and 60%. Replacing an old 50% AFUE furnace with a new 80% AFUE furnace reduces fuel consumption by more than a third.

The SEER rating is the primary efficiency rating for both heat pumps and air conditioners. A higher SEER rating indicates higher efficiency and lower power bills. The U.S. Department of Energy has been enforcing a minimum SEER rating of 13 on any new residential systems manufactured since January 2006. As a comparison, a 15-year-old air conditioning unit would probably have a SEER rating around 6. Upgrading a 15-year-old unit to a modern, 13-SEER-rating unit cuts cooling cost in half. In addition, most utility companies and federal tax credit programs impose minimum SEER rating requirements in order to be eligible for a rebate or tax credit.