All About HVAC Energy Star Ratings
When shopping for new appliances or replacing old sub-par appliances with energy efficient models, a good place to start is with products carrying the ENERGY STAR label. The label lets you know the product is trusted and backed by the U.S. government. It was established in 1992 to help consumers easily find and identify the best products that promote and support energy efficiency in both practice and performance. With fewer pollutants in the air due to ENERGY STAR products in use, energy resources are better utilized and greenhouse gas emissions are lowered.
Types of ENERGY STAR Products
Along with ENERGY STAR rated HVAC systems, other products that are certified and carry the ENERGY STAR label include:
- Appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, clothes washers and dryers, dishwashers, dehumidifiers and air purifiers.
- Building products include skylights, windows, doors, roofing products, sealant and insulate.
- Lighting and fan products that include light fixtures, bulbs, string lights, and ceiling fans.
- Electric and gas storage water heaters, tankless gas water heaters, and solar water heaters.
- In the heating and cooling category, furnaces, air-source and geothermal heat pumps, ductless heating and cooling systems, central air conditioning, boilers, room air conditioners, and ventilation fans.
- Electronics, office equipment, and pool pumps round out the list.
About HVAC Systems in the Home
We all rely on appliances to keep our home comfortable throughout the year and expect to pay for that comfort with monthly utility bills. The benefit of installing an ENERGY STAR HVAC system is more efficiency and less dollars spent on energy costs.
An HVAC system has three functions – heating, ventilation, and air conditioning and uses a series of ducts networked throughout the home to disperse heating and cooling. The system is relatively quiet and through the years, has improved its level of energy efficiency, if maintained, but still makes up the biggest portion of the utility bill.
With the ENERYG STAR rating system in place, appliances, including HVAC systems, are generally more energy efficient than those appliances not rated by as much as 20 percent. This can mean a significant savings to your monthly bill based on how much energy is used in the home.
HVAC systems are rated with what’s known as a SEER rate – Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The typical rating ranges anywhere from 13 to 23. The products with the highest SEER ratings are considered to be the most energy efficient.
When purchasing an HVAC system, the product must carry a SEER rating of no less than 14.5 along with an EER – Energy Efficiency Ratio – of 11.0 for single models, and 12.0 for split systems, in order to qualify as an ENERGY STAR certified product.
How ENERGY STAR Equipment is Chosen
In order for HVAC systems to earn an ENERGY STAR rating, the product must first adhere to certain strict guidelines and meet specifications established by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency.) These specifications include:
- The categories for potential ENERGY STAR rated products must show an increase in energy savings for consumers throughout the nation.
- Products cannot be less than what consumers expect in performance and product features.
- Consumers will see a savings in monthly utility bills even if it costs more than an alternate product that is less efficient.
- Multiple technologies can be used that are offered by more than one manufacturer to ensure energy efficiency.
- At any time, the performance and consumption of energy can be validated through testing.
- With visible labels, consumers will be able to quickly tell the difference between certified products and those that are not certified by the EPA.
- The EPA can, and does, revise specifications based on set criteria.
Rebates, Tax Credits and Other Benefits of ENERGY STAR Products
In addition to saving dollars on monthly utility bills and helping to keep the environment clean with fewer gas emissions, ENERGY STAR products may be eligible for tax credits and rebates which includes HVAC systems. The products may also qualify for local city or state incentives such as energy audits that may be discounted or free of charge and available from the utility company.
You can check the ENERGY STAR website to see which, if any, HVAC systems are currently eligible for a tax credit. Some items are still eligible through 2016.
Promotional rebate offers are also something to look for when buying a HVAC system. Although the timeframe for receiving a rebate for a HVAC purchase may be limited, it is to your advantage to check on rebates that may be available from the government, utility companies, and manufacturers.
Investing in a new HVAC system is not a cheap project and you want the best equipment that saves you money on your energy bills. It is also important that the product chosen retains its level of performance and comfort and doesn’t compromise on user friendly features. With an ENERGY STAR HVAC system, you’ll have those benefits to rely on.