What the Yellow EnergyGuide Label Tells YouPublished on: June 23, 2015
If you’re considering replacing your home’s HVAC equipment, it’s vital to compare different models to gain the greatest benefit from this major investment. For a reliable and easily accessible source of comparison data to make the task easier, look for the EnergyGuide label. The wealth of information on these bright yellow-and-black labels can help you find the most energy efficient models that fit within your budget.
What Is the EnergyGuide Label?
EnergyGuide labels provide consumers with information about the estimated operating costs and energy efficiency of most energy-consuming appliances and equipment. The labeling program was introduced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 1980 to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions.
Today, the FTC requires manufacturers of major appliances like clothes washers, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers and televisions to attach these brightly colored labels to their products. They’re also required on water heaters, boilers, furnaces, central and room air conditioners and heat pumps. Since 2013, manufacturers have made their products’ EnergyGuide information accessible online as well.
What’s the Source of EnergyGuide Label Information?
The energy efficiency, estimated consumption and cost figures included on an EnergyGuide label are the results of testing done by the equipment’s manufacturer. To provide accurate comparisons, manufacturers must use U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) standardized tests. Many manufacturers choose to hire independent laboratories to perform the actual tests.
The DOE tests for energy efficiency using a national average for electricity costs and run times, and these figures are updated every five years.
The FTC unveiled a new design for some HVAC equipment EnergyGuide labels in January 2015. The data that’s included is based on more rigorous testing methods and new minimum efficiency standards for air conditioners and heat pumps. When you’re comparison shopping for these equipment types, you’ll notice that newer models have an EnergyGuide label with a distinctive central black box with bright yellow lettering.
What EnergyGuide Labels Tell You
EnergyGuide labels include valuable facts and figures that can make it easier to choose new HVAC equipment that meets your needs. Since most heating or cooling units look similar on the outside, reading the labels can make it easier to identify and make side-by-side comparisons of those with the efficiency-boosting features you’re seeking, like thermal expansion valves, variable-speed air handlers and scroll compressors.
The exact information displayed on an EnergyGuide label will differ depending on the type of equipment, but as a general guide here’s what you can expect to find:
- Product information – The upper left corner displays the type of equipment and its key features. On the upper right, you’ll find specific details like the size, manufacturer and model number.
- Efficiency rating – This data differs based on the type of equipment. Central A/Cs show the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). Heat pumps have both the SEER and the unit’s heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). Boilers and furnaces list the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE).
- Efficiency range scale – A linear scale immediately below the unit’s rating shows you the range of efficiency ratings for similar models.
- Regional efficiency standards – The lower portion on new heat pump and central air conditioner labels now displays a colored U.S. map and list of states that tells you whether the unit meets the efficiency standards for installation in the Southeast.
- Kilowatt hours – Depending on the type of equipment, you may find its estimated annual kilowatt-hour energy consumption displayed. Multiplying this number by your local energy supplier’s rate can give you insight into a unit’s expected yearly operating costs.
- Energy Star logo – If you’re seeking highly-efficient equipment that’s certified under the Department of Energy’s Energy Star program, just look for the logo on the bottom right corner.
It’s important to keep in mind that EnergyGuide labels can only provide estimates of efficiency and expected costs. Other factors like proper installation and duct condition have a large impact on the equipment’s actual energy consumption and lifetime operating costs.