Guide to Home Heating and Cooling

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Whether you are in the market for a new heating and cooling system or looking for ways to make your existing one more efficient, these guidelines can help you get the most out of your investment.

Buying a New System If your heating or cooling system is over 15 years old, you can save on electric bills and improve your home’s energy efficiency by investing in new equipment.

The system you choose will depend on the size of your house, amount of insulation, heating and cooling usage, and local climate. Look for systems with the ENERGY STAR® label, which meet performance requirements established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Efficiency Ratings Air conditioner efficiency measures how well a system cools a given space and the amount of electricity needed to do so. Two measures of air conditioner efficiency are the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER). SEER equals the cooling output of a system divided by its overall power consumption during the cooling season (i.e., the warm part of the year). EER is similar except it measures the “instantaneous” efficiency rather than over an entire season. Window units use EER, while central air condition-ing systems use both SEER and EER. The higher the SEER and EER ratings, the more energy-efficient the system.

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