When you are shopping for a furnace, heat pump, air conditioner or other appliance, always look for the bright yellow and black Energy Guide label. These labels help explain how energy efficient the furnace or air conditioner is, and how it compares to others. Being aware of energy efficiency will help you make a wise HVAC buying decision. A more energy efficient furnace will cost more upfront versus but will likely save you money in the long run.
Understanding the Energy Guide Label
On the upper left hand side, you will see a description of what the item is (i.e. Furnace- Natural Gas).
Often on the upper right hand side, you will see the manufacturer and model number (i.e. Carrier Corporation).
Inside the box, you will see a comparison of the energy efficiency range of the equipment you are looking at and similar models. The type of measurements will vary depending on what type of equipment you are looking at.
For instance, the Energy Guide label pictured here has the least efficient model is 78 AFUE, the most efficient is 96.6 AFUE, and this model ranks at 95 AFUE for direct vent up flow, with slightly lower UFAE’s for down flow and horizontal vent flow. The AFUE rating is the percentage of fuel that is turned into usable heat. So for instance, a 95 AFUE furnace just loses 5% of its energy as exhaust. Older furnaces can have an AFUE as low as the 68-72.
Measures of Efficiency for Heating & Cooling
- UFAE- Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency is a measure of energy efficiency for furnaces and boilers that are fueled by natural gas.
- SEER – Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio is the seasonal measure of energy efficiency for air conditioners and heat pumps when cooling.
- HSPF – Heating Seasonal Performance Factor is the seasonal measure of energy efficiency for heat pumps when heating.
The higher the UFAE, SEER, or HSPF rating, the more efficient the heating or cooling system.