Energy Star Rated HVAC Systems

Published on: April 1, 2013

How do consumers know if they have energy-efficient HVAC systems? The Environmental Protection Agency developed a program to help consumers identify Energy Star air conditioners, geothermal heat pumps, heaters, and heat pumps. Before HVAC installation, locate the Energy Guide label on the side of a heating or cooling system.

Energy Star rated HVAC systems must adhere to guidelines set by the EPA for energy efficiency. The EPA created the program to reduce greenhouse emissions, save on energy costs, and help protect the environment.

Air conditioners, heaters, and heat pumps have minimum ratings, which measure the efficiency. All central air conditioners manufactured after January 26, 2006 must have minimum seasonal energy efficiency ratios of 13.

Annual fuel utilization efficiency minimums depend on the fuel source. At present, the minimum AFUE is 78 percent. You can purchase higher AFUE rated furnaces above 90 percent. Beginning on May 1, 2013, EPA’s AFUE minimums will change according to the class of heaters.

The minimum requirements for heat pumps are 8.2 Heating Seasonal Performance Factors and 14.5 SEER for split systems. For single package units, the minimums are 8.0 HSPF and 14 SEER.

Energy Guide Labels

In addition to energy efficiency, information about the HVAC equipment and operating costs are just as important. The Energy Guide label offers consumers full disclosure so they can make informed decisions. This information includes:

– Annual energy costs
– Appliance description
– Cost range for heating and cooling systems with similar features
– Energy Star logo, if applicable
– Estimated operating costs and electricity usage
– Manufacturer information

The recognizable yellow stickers give you information at a glance, so it is simple to compare heating and air conditioning systems that are similar in size, based on:

– Brands
– Capacity
– Energy usage
– Features
– Fuel source
– Utility costs

HVAC Installation EPA Guidelines

Before you have a contractor install an Energy Star rated system, make sure their EPA certification is current. It is your assurance that your contractor has the qualified technicians, proper training, and uses the industry’s best practices for installing equipment.
Periodically, the EPA updates its guidelines, policies, and requirements for certifying HVAC contractors. The updates affect training, personnel, and installation procedures.

Tax Credits for Energy Star Rated HVAC Systems

If you are planning to replace your old system, you can offset installation costs with government tax credits. Whether it is an upgrade for an existing home or a new home installation, they qualify for the tax incentives. In addition, primary and secondary residences qualify for the tax credits, but not rental properties. Along with traditional HVAC systems, geothermal heat pumps, residential wind turbines, and solar energy heaters and air conditioners are also eligible.

Heating and cooling manufacturers offer rebates on these energy-efficient heating and cooling systems. Some manufacturers offer rebates as high as $1,350 toward installation costs. With these incentives, they significantly lower the price tag for your new HVAC system.

Look for specials from your local HVAC contractor. If you combine rebates, incentives and special pricing, you can save a lot on installation costs.