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June 14, 2012
With the summer heat fast approaching in Austin, it may be a good time to consider installing a high efficiency HVAC unit. In addition to a cooler home, the government and many power companies are offering incentives for adding a unit to your home. Before purchasing a new HVAC unit, however, it is important to understand the basics of the system and how efficiency is measured.
HVAC units come in different forms. First, is a split system which pairs a separate cooling unit with a gas or oil furnace. Second, is a heat pump which supplies both heating and cooling functions. In essence, the heat pump and separate air conditioning unit operate similarly even though they use different components. In moderate climates, a heat pump is generally the most efficient system when using electricity because it can provide up to 3 times more heat when compared to the energy it consumes. Both, the heat pump and central air unit, are considered split systems because they have an indoor and outdoor component. The indoor component is the evaporator coil. This transfers heat from the air inside your home to the outside of you home in the summer. The opposite occurs in the winter. The external component is the condenser, which changes the refrigerant into a useable form for cooling your home. Finally, one should have knowledge of a “packaged unit” which contains both the condenser and evaporator coil in an outside unit. This type of unit is highly efficient depending on the local climate and construction of your home.
Now that the basic structure of the units has been explained, it is important to understand which efficiency ratings will provide the highest energy savings. With Austin seeing numerous days in excess of 90 degrees during the summer months, it is essential to have an HVAC unit that functions at optimal efficiency. A central air conditioning unit’s efficiency is rated in SEERs (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating). The higher the number - the higher the efficiency. SEER ratings generally range from 13-23 units. Air conditioning units with a SEER rating of 14 & an EER (Energy Efficiency Rating) of 11 – 11.5+ (for split and packaged units respectively) can carry the Energy Star label. These systems can be up to twice as efficient as existing units. If you have a high efficiency heat pump, it must also have an HSPF of 8.2 to carry the Energy Star label.
While high efficiency HVAC units may cost more initially, they are well worth it. The added energy savings will quickly negate the increased initial outlay. It is essential for the home owner to have a basic understanding of the types of HVAC units available to Austin residents; however, an HVAC specialist can provide you with valuable information when choosing a system. The specialists have an excellent understanding of local climate conditions, as well as the role that your home’s construction will play in heating and cooling necessities. If you are looking for an Austin HVAC specialist to assist you in your high efficiency unit purchase, look no further than Casa Mechanical. Contact us today to discuss your needs.