Replacing your heating and cooling equipment is a big expense, but shopping for a furnace or air conditioner can be very confusing with all the strange terminology. The Federal Energy Standards Act was enacted to give homeowners a basis of comparison between different heating and cooling units. Other terms are just HVAC industry jargon. What does it all mean?
AFUE—Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency is an average of how much heat a furnace delivers for each $1.00 you pay for fuel. It is like miles per gallon on your car, the higher the AFUE rating, the higher the energy efficiency of the furnace. The federal government determines the minimum AFUE rating allowed on new furnace installations, which is currently 80%. It expected to increase to 90% in our area May 1, 2013 pending finalization of recent energy legislation.
SEER—Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio is the corresponding rating for your air conditioner’s energy usage. With its partner EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio), these numbers rate how much heat in BTU’s your air conditioner will remove for each watt of electricity it uses. The minimum efficiency allowed in new air conditioner installations is 13 SEER. In other words, a 13 SEER unit will remove 13 BTU’S of heat per watt of electricity consumed.
BTU—Stands for British Thermal Unit. It is the approximate amount needed to heat 1 pound of water 1 degree. It’s basically a way to measure heat.
Freon (or R-22)—This is a refrigerant that is being phased out because it has been found to damage the ozone layer. Currently, in residential air conditioning, it has been replaced with Puron (or R-410a).
Evaporator Coil (also called the cooling coil of the AC system)—The part of an air conditioner or heat pump system that is located inside the house in the furnace/air handler. It is here that the refrigerant evaporates as it absorbs heat from the air that passes over the coil. When you replace your air conditioner without also replacing your furnace, you ought to replace the evaporator coil as well. If you don’t, you will not have a matched system and it is likely that you won’t get the rated efficiency or capacity for the outside unit (also called the condensing unit).
If you have any questions regarding these terms or any other HVAC-related questions, contact P.K. Wadsworth today!