How is the efficiency of heating and cooling equipment measured and how can I increase it?
A good baseline to determine your equipment efficiency is to look at the S.E.E.R. rating. The S.E.E.R. (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) is the amount of cooling your system will deliver per dollar spent on electricity. For example, a 3-ton unit may have a S.E.E.R. efficiency rating of 13, 14, or 15. The higher the S.E.E.R. the more efficient the system will be. The S.E.E.R. rating of any given unit can range anywhere from 13 to 14. Units with higher S.E.E.R. ratings tend to cost more up front, but save you money in the long run on your utility bills.
While getting a unit with a higher S.E.E.R. rating can save money on your bills you also have to maintain your unit to keep it running at the best of its ability. A good way to prolong the life of your unit and increasing the efficiency is to clean or replace your filters frequently. Also, getting your unit inspected twice a year before major season changes happen in your area. An easy way to think of inspections is comparable to getting an oil change for your car to maintain the performance and keep it up and running. Plus, a system heats and cools more evenly when the blower is in the “on” position. The blower provides constant air movement throughout the home, and allows for better filtration. Finally, shades, drapes, shutters, or screens should be installed on windows that are exposed to extreme sunlight.