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Finding the Best Heating System: Use HSPF, AFUE and SEER

It’s been cold. It’s been downright frigid. While your average wooly mammoth may find negative temperatures extremely comfortable, we, as humans, unfortunately don’t grow big furry coats. So, having a good heating system in your home during these winter months can be imperative for your comfort.

But what do you do when that old rundown heater starts misbehaving? Most of the time, people cringe as they think about all of the money they are going to have to spend. When they start thinking about cost, they start thinking about how to cut cost. When they cut cost, they buy a cheap system, and when they buy a cheap system, you end up with a heater like the one Kevin Mccallister had in his basement in Home Alone. Listed below are a few steps you can take in order to find the best replacement for your system, how you can save money over the long term, and how you can safely remove your terrifying old machine.

Steps Toward a Better Heating Experience

What type of system does your home require?

If you already have a heating system in your home, then you are in luck. The reason being that your new system will likely be similar to the one your currently have. If you have a forced air system, the replacement system will be a forced air system. If you have a heat pump system, then the new system should be a heat pump system. This law holds true for heat exchanger systems and gas furnaces as well.

What’s the efficiency rating of your system?

Older systems are typically much less efficient compared to those available on the market today. A 1970 Ford Mustang is going to get fewer miles to the gallon than a 2014 model. Greater regulations on fuel economy have led to more fuel efficient vehicles (though we do miss those old muscle cars). The same is true for heating systems; as the years have gone on, the models have become more efficient, which saves you, the consumer, more money over the long term. Cars have MPG, while heating systems have a whole bunch of acronyms to determine efficiency:

  • HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor): HSPF measures the efficiency of air source heat pumps by determining the ratio of heat energy output to watt-hours of electricity used during the heating season. Keep your eyes open for systems that are rated over an 8. Any system over that number can be considered a high-efficiency system.
  • AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency): Other than sounding like a really awkward sneeze, the AFUE rating gathers the average thermal efficiency of your gas furnace (combustion energy systems) over the heating season. This average is measured as a percentage (energy output/energy input) and the higher the percentage, the more efficient the system is.
  • SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio): Today, most heating systems are paired with cooling systems. In order to better understand the efficiency and energy usage of the system in warmer weather, the SEER rating was created. It measures the amount of cooling energy output (in BTUs), and divides it by the watt-hours of electrical energy consumed during the cooling season. In the US, these systems have to have a minimum rating of 13, while higher efficiency models typically run around 20.

Meet with your good ol’ local HVAC Provider

When you have a list of potential options, it would be a good idea to hire an HVAC professional to help select an option. With your research, and their insight, it should be possible to have a better discussion about which system best fits both your home and your budget.

Stay warm!