Efficiency Ratings: Frequently Asked Questions

Understanding different HVAC terminology and efficiency ratings and regulations can help homeowners make better decisions about their HVAC system. Here are a few frequently asked questions about efficiency standards for air conditioners and heat pumps.

What is a SEER rating?

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or SEER is the ratio of total heat removed from the conditioned space during the annual cooling season divided by the total electrical energy consumed by the air conditioner during the same season. The higher the SEER rating, the less energy used by the air conditioner to cool the home.

Bag of repairman's work tools, gloves on top of two air conditioner units outside a brick home in a residential neighborhood.  The air conditioners are in a back yard in the hot summer season. Service industry, working class.

What is a SEER2 Rating?

A SEER2 is also a measure of HVAC efficiency, but it is measured differently than SEER. A SEER2 rating measures the energy efficiency under test conditions that more accurately represent real world scenarios of installed air conditioners. Typically, SEER2 ratings will be around .5 lower than SEER ratings. Beginning with the efficiency standard changes on January 1, 2023, efficiency standards will be expressed in SEER2 ratings instead of SEER.

Why Is An Energy Efficiency Rating Important?

HVAC systems with a higher SEER rating reduce carbon emissions and have a positive impact on the environment. Equipment with a higher SEER or SEER2 rating will also help homeowners save money on utility bills.

Why Are SEER Requirements Higher In North Carolina?

Air conditioning in southern states is used more frequently due to the significantly higher outside temperatures during the warm months in spring, summer, and fall. As a result of increased use, there is a higher impact on the environment. As a result, the Department of Energy (DOE) places more stringent regulations on residential HVAC equipment in these areas.

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What Is A Dual Fuel System?

A dual-fuel system is a home comfort system that combines an electric heat pump with a gas furnace. The system is designed to alternate between the electric and gas to maximize efficiency while ensuring a comfortable home.

During the summer months, when you need cooling, the heat pump works like an air conditioner, cooling the home as needed.

During the mild weather in the spring and fall the heat pump continues to condition the home, providing heating as needed.

heat pump

However, when the temperatures fall as winter approaches, the heat pump turns off and lets the furnace take over. As long as the outside temperature is over approximately 35°F, a heat pump can pull heat from the outside air to condition the home for less than it would take to start the furnace. Essentially, the furnace is only used during the coldest times of the year to heat the home.

How Does A Duel Fuel System Work?

During the milder weather the comfort system transfers energy instead of making it by burning fuel. Using the furnace for air distribution only (no burners, no heat), the heat pump will send hot refrigerant through the air conditioning coil inside the furnace. The furnace’s fan takes the cooler air from the home via the air returns and blows it across the warm coil, warming the air. The warmed air is then circulated throughout the house to keep the home at the proper temperature.

It’s the same process used during the cooling season, just reversed, courtesy of a dual fuel heat pump. While an air conditioner can only move refrigerant through the system one way, a heat pump can force refrigerant in either direction – one way to cool and one way to heat.

Is A Dual Fuel System Right For My Home?

Here are a few things to review as you consider a dual fuel system.

Complete A Load Analysis

Despite your existing system’s specs, you may experience a difference in load if you’ve completed any improvement projects since installation or have an issue with system design. We recommend having a load analysis performed by a professional HVAC company to get started.

Compare System Options

The best way to compare different technologies is to rely on the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or SEER. As a general rule, the higher the SEER number, the more efficient the equipment. While more efficient equipment can cost more to purchase, homeowners typically see a reduction in cooling costs by up to 15% for every two-point increase in SEER.

Review Utility Costs

If natural gas is increasing faster than electrical rates the payback period would be shorter than if you have lower priced natural gas and extremely high electrical bills. A key benefit of a dual fuel system is switching the utility load to a less expensive source in milder weather.

Confirm Project Scope

Dual fuel heat pumps work well as an air conditioning replacement as long as the furnace is compatible. Older furnaces may have to be replaced to work with a dual fuel heat pump which can add to the scope of the project.

Explore Savings Opportunities

Energy saving tax credits could help offset additional purchase costs. Be sure to add additional special discounts or rebates from the HVAC contractor as well as any expected energy savings to get a true view of the cost of the HVAC system upgrade.

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To request a free consultation to explore your HVAC system replacement, simply fill out the form below. An associate will be in touch with you within one business day to set up an appointment time that is convenient for you and your family.

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