Homeowner Articles Picking the Most Efficient HVAC System for Your Home

Finding an energy-efficient HVAC system can save you money on your monthly utility bills and extend the life of your heating and cooling unit.

The average HVAC unit has a life expectancy of between 15 and 20 years, but if your system lacks proper maintenance or efficiency, you could be looking at a premature system replacement.

Picking the most efficient HVAC system for your home can be challenging. Thankfully, you have plenty of options that offer various levels of efficiency.

Below is a comprehensive guide to understanding energy efficiency and finding the best heating and cooling system for your home.

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What Makes an HVAC System Energy-Efficient?

Having a more energy-efficient HVAC system can help you lower your monthly utility bills, improve indoor air quality, and extend the life of your unit.

However, you’ll need to look for different ratings when shopping for a new air conditioning or heating system.

What Determines Energy Efficiency?

Your HVAC system draws power to heat and cool your home. When you have an old or malfunctioning unit, it will need to work harder to satisfy thermostat demands.

As a result, it will draw more power and gradually increase your monthly power bill.

An energy-efficient HVAC system will use more energy than it wastes; however, not all systems have the same degree of energy efficiency.

Two ways to determine the energy efficiency of an HVAC system are Energy Star ratings and SEER ratings.

Energy Star Ratings

An energy-efficient air conditioning or heating unit will have a high Energy Star rating and certification.

Energy Star is a government program that certifies various appliances based on their energy efficiency levels.

Homeowners looking for an energy-efficient AC unit or heating system should look for ones with Energy Star certifications and a high EER and SEER rating.

EER and SEER Rating

The SEER rating of your home HVAC system is its Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, which measures the air conditioner or heating unit’s overall seasonal energy efficiency ratio, which gives you an idea of how the system will perform throughout the year.

The higher the SEER rating, the more energy-efficient your HVAC system will be.

Generally, SEER ratings start as low as 14 and go as high as 20. If you are buying a new system, you want to find a unit with a SEER rating close to 20.

EER ratings are similar to SEER, but they measure system efficiency at peak operation times.

When looking for a new HVAC system, you want to find a unit with a high SEER and EER for maximum efficiency in your home.

Types of Energy Efficient HVAC Systems

Ductless Mini-Split Systems

One of the most energy-efficient HVAC systems out there is the mini-split system.

Mini-split heat pumps and air conditioners don’t waste any energy since they heat or cool your home by zones.

Rather than dealing with random hot and cold spots throughout the house, mini-split HVAC systems heat and cool each room in your home with individual thermostats.

A traditional central air conditioner will use a duct system to carry air throughout the house.

Although this can effectively cool multiple rooms, it generally uses up to 30% of the energy it draws just to move the air around.

By using an intelligent wall-mounted system, mini-split heating and cooling systems can save you a significant amount of money while maintaining comfortable indoor temperatures year-round.

An HVAC technician can place an indoor unit in various rooms throughout the house, which you can control wirelessly room by room.

Controlling the different zones throughout your home with a mini-split system can get you up to 40% in energy savings. Additionally, many units use inverter technology for improved system monitoring.

Ductless mini-split systems come in two main models:

Single-zone system:

A single-zone mini-split system is easier to install than the traditional model as it requires only one indoor unit that connects to the outdoor unit.

Multi-zone system:

Contrary to the single-zone system, a multi-zone unit can consist of up to eight indoor units that connect to a single outdoor unit.

This allows homeowners to heat and cool more rooms of their homes with extra energy efficiency.

Since multi-zone systems use more indoor units and refrigerant lines, they tend to cost more than a single-zone mini-split system.

Standard Split System Heat Pumps

While ductless mini-split systems rely on outdoor air, standard split systems circulate the refrigerant from the indoor and outdoor units.

If you need warmer air during the winter, you can add gas to the furnace connected to the standard split system.

Standard split systems boost energy savings by heating a single room and moving the warm air throughout your home.

They do this with a duct system and blower that uses minimal energy. The most energy-efficient standard split systems have an EER rating of 15.

The Most Energy-Efficient HVAC Systems for Heating

A large portion of your monthly energy bill comes from heating your home in the winter.

Finding the most efficient HVAC system and heat pump can help you save money while keeping your home comfortable during colder months.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

geothermal heat pump

Water source heat pump

The most efficient HVAC system out there is a geothermal heat pump. A geothermal system doesn’t use fuel or propane to heat and cool your home. Instead, it uses advanced technology to use natural heat from the ground or nearby water.

The refrigerant in geothermal systems condenses heat to warm your home during the winter. When the weather is warm, it draws the heat from your house outside to keep cool air in your home.

An open-loop geothermal system uses nearby water from a lake or pond to heat and cool your home.

It takes the water and directs it into your house to produce warm or cool air. Then the open-loop geothermal system recycles the water, creating an unmatched energy-efficient and eco-friendly heat pump.

A hybrid geothermal system uses well water to heat and cool a home. As the most efficient system available, it can save you up to 70% of your annual heating energy costs.

However, these types of geothermal heat pumps only work for certain types of homes:

  • Properties with a nearby well
  • Homes that use propane, fuel, or wood for heating
  • Homes that have existing ductwork

The most significant benefit of a geothermal system is that it takes heat from the earth rather than using fossil fuel to warm your home, making it an eco-friendly HVAC system.

The most efficient geothermal systems have an EER rating of up to 45 since they don’t waste energy and still produce enhanced cooling and heating.

Since a geothermal system offers unmatched heating and AC efficiency, it can cost between $11,000 and $25,000 to install.

However, despite the high installation costs, the highly energy-efficient heating systems can save you a significant amount of money on maintenance and monthly utility bills.

Air-Source Heat Pump

Air source heat pump

Air-source heat pumps cool and heat a home with high efficiency by moving the air in and out of your house. To heat your home, the heat pumps use refrigerant to cool air and move it outside while directing heat inside your home.

Although air-source heat pumps have a high energy-efficiency rating, they don’t work as well in extremely cold climates.

Central Furnaces and Air Conditioners

York Central HVAC System

Furnaces are a popular residential heating system that uses fuel, propane, or electricity when on heating mode.

Unlike other high-efficiency heating units, furnaces use AFUE ratings or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency.

The AFUE rating tells you how much energy the furnace is actually using and how much it wastes.

For example, if your furnace has an AFUE rating of 80%, that means that it uses 80% of the energy that it draws from your home while 20% goes unused.

You pay for 100% of the energy that your furnace uses, so it is vital to find a system with a high AFUE rating.

Since furnaces only produce warm air, most homes pair them with energy-efficient air conditioners.

You can check the efficiency of your air conditioner by using its EER or SEER rating.

Find the Most Efficient HVAC System for Your Home

Finding the most efficient air conditioners and heating units is critical for lowering your monthly energy bills and maintaining effective climate control in your home.

At Upstate Home Maintenance Services, we can help you find energy-efficient HVAC systems that offer extreme humidity control and high-efficiency ratings.

Our licensed experts use the highest-quality tools and materials to ensure that every Upstate South Carolina homeowner receives the best service possible.

Upstate Home Maintenance Services offers a wide range of HVAC services in Spartanburg and Greenville, South Carolina, and surrounding counties.

Give us a call at (864) 529-7310 to find and install highly efficient HVAC systems or to schedule a maintenance service.

This article was written by Morgan Loch

Owner of Upstate Home Maintenance Services LLC and Local HVAC Guru

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