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Subscribe to our RSS Feed Upgrading Your HVAC System? Let EnergyGuide and Energy Star Lead the Way

Friday, May 17, 2013

When it comes time to upgrade heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, you want to make an informed decision. But how do you compare these high-tech systems to determine the best return on investment? One smart way to start is by comparing EnergyGuide labels and looking for the Energy Star seal of approval.

What is EnergyGuide?

If you’ve been shopping for new HVAC equipment, it’s likely that you have come across the bright yellow EnergyGuide label. To help make the best decision possible based on energy efficiency, you should learn how to read the EnergyGuide label, and factor its key information into your purchase decision.

First, check out the upper-left corner, which lists the appliance's key features. Look for these features on similar appliances that you are considering, so you don’t end up comparing apples to oranges.

Now look at the upper-right corner of the EnergyGuide label, where you'll see the make, model and size of the appliance that you’re examining. This simply ensures that you’ve chosen equipment that is proper size for your needs, and that the label matches the equipment it’s attached to.

Next, draw your attention to the center of the EnergyGuide label, where a large number is written on a scale. This is the estimated yearly operating cost, and is most useful for determining how efficient this piece of equipment is compared to others with similar features. The dollar amount shown is what you might pay to operate the equipment in a year, but its primary purpose is for you to be able to compare it with others on the scale representing the cost range of similar models.

Under the scale, there is a number written in kilowatt-hours. This is the amount of electricity the equipment consumes in one year, when used an average amount of hours per day. To more accurately calculate how much it costs to run the equipment in Louisville, take the local electricity rate and multiply it by this kilowatt-hour amount.

Finally, in the lower right-hand corner of the EnergyGuide label, you might see the Energy Star logo. If so, then you’ve chosen one of the most efficient pieces of equipment available. When you choose an Energy Star-qualified furnace, boiler, air conditioner or heat pump, you'll typically realize increased energy efficiency, lower electricity bills, and enhanced home comfort.

What is Energy Star?

Energy Star is a joint endeavor of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Established to help consumers find top-notch, energy-efficient products, the Energy Star label lets you know that the products you’re considering will not only save you money, but also alleviate your impact on the environment.

Earning the Energy Star label

In order to carry the Energy Star label, a product must:

  • Deliver significant energy savings across the nation.
  • Offer must-have features of convenience and performance.
  • Be widely available from multiple manufacturers.
  • Allow consumers the opportunity to recoup their investment through energy savings over time.

Once a product has earned the Energy Star label, it must prominently display the label so that it can be easily identified by consumers. In addition, qualified products must remain up to the current specifications of the Energy Star program in order to maintain Energy Star status. This means maintaining minimum efficiency standards, keeping up with technological advancements and providing promised efficiency and savings over time.

Accessing the benefits

If you’re upgrading your HVAC system, choosing Energy Star-qualified equipment can provide a number of benefits. For example, if you upgrade to an Energy Star-qualified air conditioner, you could see an efficiency boost of up to 14 percent due to the higher seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) and energy efficiency ratio (EER) these models carry. SEER and EER are efficiency ratings that indicate how well your unit will use energy to provide necessary cooling over the course of the season, and how well it will perform under high temperature and humidity demands.

While EnergyGuide and Energy Star provide a starting point, to get the most out of upgrading your HVAC systems, you need to ensure your equipment is properly sized and installed. That's why it's so important to work with a qualified contractor.

If you're in Chicago, NW Indiana or SW Michigan, you can an expert HVAC contractors at


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