New System FAQs

What is the best brand?

  • The largest single factor in the efficiency and reliability of a new system is the quality of the installation, so choosing a quality contractor is possibly more important than the brand.

  • Brand ratings are hard to establish because, like all consumer goods, individual models of the same brand can be more or less reliable. Additionally, every brand has product offerings ranging from "premium" on down to basic.

  • Choosing a great contractor and a great brand will usually lead to great results!

What do the efficiency ratings mean, and can I trust them?

In all HVAC equipment efficiency ratings, a higher number is better. All equipment is tested and rated by an independent testing agency.

  • AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) applies to gas furnaces and measures efficiency over the entire heating season, telling you how much of your fuel dollar is converted into heat. For example an 80%AFUE means you keep 80% of the heat and 20% is wasted. The AFUE does NOT include electrical energy consumption.

  • COP (Coefficient of Performance) compares electrically powered heating equipment to standard electric resistance heat. A COP of 1.0 indicates 100 percent efficiency. All electric furnaces and heaters have a C.O.P. of 1.0. Heat pumps can have higher C.O.P. ratings because they actually move heat indoors from the outdoors. For example a heat pump with a C.O.P. of 2.0 gives you 200% of the heat that an electric furnace or heater would using the same amount of electricity.

  • SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) estimates the efficiency of central air conditioning or heat pumps in the cooling mode, over an entire cooling season. The number indicates the BTUs of heat removed per watt of electricity. For example a 13 SEER AC removes 13 BTUs per watt.

  • HSPF (Heating Season Performance Factor) measures the heating efficiency of air source heat pumps. It is the ratio of heating energy produced to energy consumed: it is determined by dividing the seasonal heating output in BTUs by the seasonal power consumption in watts. For example a heat pump with a HSPF of 8.0 will produce 8 BTUs of heat per watt. Heat pump ratings do not allow for the energy consumed in the defrost cycle. Therefore they are good for comparison between brands and models, but real life electricity usage will be higher than rated for all models.

Why does my proposal show a different SEER rating than the equipment literature?

  • All cooling equipment is rated at a nominal SEER rating which can be increased or decreased by matching the outside unit with different furnaces, coils, or air handlers. The proposed system is rated and certified at the quoted SEER rating.

What is a “dual fuel” system, and why should I want one?

  • A “dual fuel” system has the ability heat your home using either gas or an electric heat pump. In most homes it is less expensive to heat with a heat pump than with gas, when temperatures are above approximately 32 degrees F. When the outside temperature drops below a calculated set point your system will automatically switch to gas heat. You can read more about dual fuel systems here: Dual Fuel Systems

What is refrigerant 410A, and why should I buy equipment with it, instead of R22?

Refrigerant 22 has been banned because of it’s ozone depleting potential. Starting in January 2010 no new equipment can be produced utilizing R22 as a refrigerant. Each year the production quotas for R22 will be reduced until no more refrigerant can be produced. As the supply of new R22 drops, the price will continue to increase, making repairs of R22 containing equipment more expensive. Equipment designed for R22 will not operate using R410A, and can not be converted to use R410A. R410A refrigerant has an ozone depletion potential of zero, and is also more efficient than R22. You can read more about R410A here: R-410A

Why would I want a 2 stage variable speed furnace?

  1. The two stage furnace operates in low heat 90% of the time most days, only switching to high fire on the coldest days. In low fire, the blower runs slower and quieter and the heat is distributed more evenly in your home.

  2. Better air quality because the blower runs more and the air is filtered more.

  3. The electronic blower motor in a variable speed 2 stage furnace uses less electricity, a lot less, about as much as a 75 watt light bulb. The electricity a furnace uses is not included in it’s efficiency rating.

  4. Most Air Conditioners achieve the next higher SEER rating when properly installed with an electronic indoor blower.