Homeowner Handbook: Understanding HVAC Energy Efficiency

A lot of your home’s energy efficiency comes down to what the builder implemented. So, if you’re buying a new home or building, it’s important to hire an MTB professional who has a firm grasp on energy codes.Understanding Your HVAC Options
Per the U.S. Department of Energy, if an HVAC system is installed improperly, it can reduce the system’s efficiency up to 30 percent. That 30 percent may not sound like a lot, but think of it as compound interest. The wasted energy will add up to a larger sum spent on your bills in the long run.
Today, every HVAC appliance has a denoted energy rating that categorizes its efficiency. For gas furnaces, it’s AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) ratings. If you’re looking at a furnace’s efficiency rating, look for ones with AFUEs that are 95 percent or higher. For your air conditioner, look at the SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) rating. The higher the SEER rating, the better. On average, 14 is the minimum standard and 21 is the high end.
If you’re thinking about purchasing a new HVAC system or building a new home, call the experts. At MTB, we work with builders and homeowners to ensure the equipment installed is the right size for the home. We run computerized Manual J loads, which accurately size equipment for your home. Ductwork is also a major player in your home’s efficiency, so we design all of our duct systems specifically for each home.
Figuring Out Your Climate Zone
This is especially important for homeowners who are building or buying a new home. If you’re in Charlotte, you’re in Climate Zone 3.
There are code regulations for new residential builds across the country (with a total of seven climate zones). Per The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), which most U.S. code is based on, there are two code paths: prescriptive code (the base requirement) and performance code (above and beyond for higher energy efficiency). The IECC typically updates code requirements every three years, so homes built 15 years from now will be held to different standards than ones now. This is something to think about when you’re buying an older home.
There are a lot of factors at play when it comes to your whole home’s energy efficiency, so talk to your builder about your goals and concerns. The overall focus is on the building envelope (ceilings, windows, walls, floors and foundation) and how it preserves your indoor air quality.
Don’t worry, you aren’t expected to be a code expert. Call MTB for recommendations and for us to explain the best HVAC system for your home.