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How long has it been since you were tempted to buy a heat pump or air conditioner without the Energy Star label? The Energy Star program, which is jointly run by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy, distinguishes equipment with better efficiency, so it’s been easy to eliminate unqualified systems from your list of potential upgrades.

However, the Energy Star Most Efficient program goes beyond “better” efficiency to pinpoint the best of the best. The Energy Star Most Efficient program ran on a pilot basis through 2011, but now it’s fully active. As you shop for a replacement heat pump or air conditioner, look for the new logo, which features the familiar blue Energy Star symbol next to the words “Most Efficient 2012.”

The EPA has strict efficiency guidelines as to which equipment can qualify for the Energy Star Most Efficient label. Based on these requirements, about 5 percent of all eligible types of appliances end up qualifying for the distinction.

Air conditioner requirements

Split systems are required to achieve a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating of at least 18 to qualify. These systems must also have an energy efficiency ratio (EER) rating of at least 12.5.

Packaged air conditioners qualify for the Energy Star Most Efficient label with a SEER rating of 16 or higher and an EER rating of at least 12.

Heat pump requirements

Heat pumps share cooling efficiency requirements with air conditioners, but they also have their own set of heating efficiency requirements. Split heat pumps must have a Heating Season Performance Factor (HSPF) of 9.6 or higher to qualify. Packaged systems need an HSPF rating or 8 or higher.

These efficiency rating requirements are steep, considering that the national minimum for cooling efficiency is 13 SEER and the minimum for heating efficiency is 7.7 HSPF. By choosing a product with the Energy Star Most Efficient label, you’ll save significantly on your energy bills.

To learn more, please contact us at NisAir Air Conditioning and Heating today. We serve Martin, Palm Beach and Indian River counties in South Florida.

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