Frequently Asked Questions
Have a question? No problem! We get questions from our customers every day. Some common ones are below. Click on a title to expand it for more information.
Don’t see your question? Call us at (281) 441-8001 to ask a qualified HVAC professional.
What Is Energy Efficiency? +
Energy efficiency measures how the energy you put into your air conditioner, heat pump, or furnace (e.g. electricity) compares to the cooling energy you get out of it (measured in British Thermal Units, or BTUs). If the input and output energy is very different, it means you are losing a lot of energy to the atmosphere and your system is relatively inefficient. Such units receive lower efficiency ratings (ratings for air conditioners and heat pumps and ratings for furnaces). If the ratio between the input and output energy is small, it means most of the energy is being used for climate control and little is being lost, making your unit very efficient and resulting in a higher rating.
What Is SEER? +
SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) is a measurement of energy efficiency for air conditioners and heat pumps. It compares the amount of energy needed to run your unit during an “average” year with the average amount of cooling or heating capacity you get out of it during an average year. The more efficient your unit, the higher the SEER rating will be. In most of the United States, the minimum SEER rating for new equipment is 13, but in the southern United States, where the average temperature is hotter than average, the minimum is 14.
What Is EER? +
(Energy Efficiency Rating) is a measurement of energy efficiency for air conditioners and heat pumps. EER is generally calculated using a single set of “peak” indoor, outdoor, and humidity parameters, and thus is less commonly used than SEER, which takes into account weather fluctuations throughout the year.
Why Are SEER and EER Different? +
Many air conditioners and heat pumps will give you both a SEER and an EER rating, but these two numbers are almost always different. This is because EER is calculated using a single “peak” outdoor temperature (usually 95° F), a single indoor temperature (usually 80° F), and a single relative humidity level (usually 50%). SEER, on the other hand, attempts to represent how temperature and humidity fluctuations throughout the year influence EER, and thus the SEER rating is usually higher.
What If The Average Year In My Area Is Different Than That Used To Calculate SEER? +
This is one of the weaknesses of the SEER rating. Although SEER attempts to give an accurate picture of how efficient a unit will be over fluctuating weather conditions during the year, there are not different SEER ratings for different climates. Thus the “average” year used to calculate SEER may be harsher or milder than your actual climate (this is why a higher SEER is required in the warmer parts of the U.S.). SEER should only be used as a guideline and not as a hard calculation of exactly how efficient your unit will be. The important thing to know is that the higher the SEER, the more efficient the unit will be.
What Is AFUE? +
AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) is a measurement of efficiency for furnaces, which measures the percentage of the fuel that turns into useful energy compared to the total energy input. An AFUE of 84% for a natural gas furnace for example, means that 84% of the gas you use turns into useful heat that warms your home. The rest is lost to the atmosphere. Like SEER, AFUE attempts to take into account the weather fluctuations during an average year.
Why Does Efficiency Matter? +
Not only do more efficient units save you money by transforming more of the energy you pay for into useful heating or cooling power, but they also allow you use less total energy, which is beneficial to the environment. The higher the SEER or AFUE of your equipment, the greener you will be and the more money you will save on energy bills during the year.
Aren't More Efficient Units More Expensive? +
It’s true that the more efficient the air conditioner, heat pump, or furnace, the higher the initial price of the unit and its installation is likely to be. However, these costs are often offset over time by the amount of energy savings you will receive over the course of the unit’s life. For example, a 14 SEER heat pump may cost less than a 17 SEER unit during the first year of operation when the cost of the unit, its installation, and the utility bills incurred by running it are considered together. However, after a few years, the energy savings from the 17 SEER pump may begin to tip the scales in its favor. After 10 years, the 17 SEER pump will have long been the least expensive option, and by the time its useful lifespan is over at 15-20 years, it may have saved you hundreds or thousands of dollars.
What Are the Differences Among the Brands? +
American Standard, Bryant, and Carrier are all highly-respected manufacturers. Carrier is one of our most popular brands, setting the standard with high-quality, energy-efficient products. Bryant models are very similar, but slightly more affordable for people on a tight budget. American Standard represents our premium line with quality you’ll never regret. For more information, call Local AC Outlet at (281) 441-8001
Why Do You Sell Air Conditioners and Furnaces Together? +
Unlike many other direct retailers, we sell air conditioners and furnaces or air handlers together because all these pieces work together as a unit. While it’s true that you can hook a new component up to an old system, doing so dramatically decreases its efficiency. For example, a 15 SEER air conditioner may operate at only 12 SEER if paired with an old furnace. Likewise a high-efficiency furnace may operate like a low-efficiency furnace if paired with an old evaporator coil. Buying an air conditioner and furnace together ensure that you’re actually getting the performance for which you’re paying.
What If I Only Need An Air Conditioner or Furnace? +
While we encourage our customers to buy an air conditioner and furnace or air handler together for the reasons previously mentioned, we realize that there are some instances in which you may only need one component. You can request an estimate an air conditioner or furnace “à la carte” by calling us at (281) 441-8001.
What Is ENERGY STAR? +
is the standard for energy efficient products originating in the United States. Products that contain the ENERGY STAR seal of approval usually exceed the federal minimum guidelines for efficiency.
Why Is Capacity Measured In Tons? +
The measurement “tons,” when applied to air conditioners and heat pumps, is not a measurement of weight, but of cooling capacity. One coolingis equal to 12,000 BTUs of cooling power per hour or 12,000 BTUs/hr. The term “ton” harkens back to the days when ice was used to cool buildings and 1 ton of ice had the same cooling ability as a 1 ton air conditioner.