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When you’re in the market for new HVAC equipment, whether it’s a furnace, heat pump, A/C or something else, it’s important that you choose a unit that’s as energy efficient as you can afford. Not only will you help the environment by lowering your energy usage, you’ll save money on your power bill each month.

The good news is that you’re not alone in this struggle. The federal Energy Star program is right there with you, providing needed information to help you make a decision on which equipment to purchase. And in recent years, the new Most Efficient category has gone above and beyond what consumers have come to expect when it comes to providing energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment.

The Power of Energy Star

Energy Star was created in 1992 by the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) as a way to improve energy efficiency by awarding the Energy Star label to HVAC and other energy-using equipment and upgrades that met rigorous energy-efficiency standards. Various electronics, heating and cooling equipment, water heaters, appliances and even windows and insulation that can comply with the energy-efficiency requirements set forth by the program are rewarded with an Energy Star label that easily identifies them as such. This label has become a reliable way for consumers to immediately identify products that will save energy and money without sacrificing performance.

The Most Efficient Program

Improvements to technology in the area of energy efficiency have enabled more companies than ever before to meet the minimum requirements to achieve an Energy Star label. Unfortunately, this means that the label doesn’t mean as much to consumers since it’s difficult to differentiate which pieces of equipment are better without a great deal of research. In order to address this problem, a new, higher standard was created, known as the Most Efficient program. The electronics, appliances and upgrades receiving this label represent the most energy-efficient models available. Although these appliances are generally more expensive than ones that don’t make the cut, the increased energy and money savings are worth it for most consumers. Meanwhile, the regular Energy Star program remains in effect.

Meeting the Most Efficient Criteria

As mentioned, the criteria involved in order to receive the Most Efficient label is stricter than the normal criteria. It’s designed to reward only the best appliances on the market, and with some equipment, additional criteria must be met. To illustrate what this means, let’s take a look at some of the criteria for an Energy Star Most Efficient A/C system:

  • Minimum requirements for a split A/C system are 18 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) and 12.5 EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio), while packaged systems must be rated at 16 SEER and 12 EER.
  • Excluded are models that are rated greater than 65,000 Btu/hr of cooling.
  • As of 2014, mini-splits and split ductless systems are eligible to take part in the Most Efficient program.

To further illustrate, we’ve compiled some information concerning the requirements for a furnace to receive a Most Efficient label:

  • AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) must be rated at 97 percent or greater.
  • A signal must be provided from the blower fan that estimates static pressure.
  • Any faults in the system must be accessible via plain text.

The Energy Star Most Efficient program was introduced only a few years ago, but a number of changes already have been instituted to improve it. Each year, new appliances are given the opportunity to submit for inclusion into the program, such as fans and windows. Specifications and requirements for existing entries into the program can change and evolve, and as technology improves in the future, this will continue to happen. The Energy Star program hopes to avoid a situation where better technology results in too many appliances and other equipment being included, thereby giving the label less impact. Going forward, experts expect the Energy Star Most Efficient program to more or less take over as the industry standard in terms of ensuring energy efficiency for homeowners and businesses.

For more expert advice on Energy Star or any home comfort concerns, please contact the professionals at Griffith Energy Services, Inc. We serve homeowners throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

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