Air conditioners and furnaces that function optimally save you money while keeping your home comfortable. Most HVAC contractors will tell you that old units tend to struggle with efficiency, but there can even be performance differences between newer models. The following core metrics can help you determine whether your residential system is working as well as it should and if it's time for an upgrade.

How to Tell if Your HVAC Unit Is Efficient

1. Age

Most HVAC systems last between 15 and 25 years. In almost all circumstances, new units will work more effectively than old ones. As technology evolves, manufacturers find additional ways to streamline the performance of these systems without sacrificing comfort. Consequently, new appliances operate better than outdated models, and they also cost less to run over time. Look for units with Energy Star® labels since these appliances can save you 20% or more on your monthly energy bills

2. Consistency 

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Inefficient systems struggle to heat or cool homes consistently. For example, you might find that certain rooms stay cold or hot, regardless of the thermostat settings. 

This can be attributed to having a unit that's too small for the size of your house, but it's also possible that your current appliance needs some maintenance or repairs to function properly. An HVAC contractor can verify whether the heating and cooling systems are appropriate for your space and diagnose any issues with temperature fluctuations and inconsistencies.

3. SEER Ratings

Modern AC units are stamped with seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) ratings. This number tells you how effective an air conditioning system is at converting electricity into cooling power. According to the U.S. Department of Energy's standards, your appliance should have a SEER rating of 14.5 or higher. If your current unit doesn't meet these standards, consider a new installation since the savings add up significantly over time.

4. AFUE Ratings 

The annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating is the equivalent of the SEER rating for furnaces. A high AFUE rating indicates that your system is using fuel properly. Ideally, a furnace should have a 90% to 95% AFUE rating to ensure the best performance.


If you need help maintaining or updating your AC unit or furnace, reach out to Riley-Armstrong Plumbing & Heating in Fort Dodge, IA. This HVAC contractor has been serving homeowners and commercial clients throughout Webster County for more than 30 years. Their team is known for friendly and reliable service, and they're also available 24/7 for emergencies. View the full scope of their work online, or call (515) 955-2232 to schedule an appointment.