How to Understand Energy Star Heat Pump Ratings

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What You'll Need
Electricity billing rates for your area
Energy Star rating guide

Energy Star heat pump ratings help consumers to make smart choices when purchasing a heating and cooling solution for their home. Understanding the Energy Star rating system is essential to understanding the cost of your home heat pump, and making a choice that suits your climate and your home's needs.

Step 1 – Understand SEER Ratings

Energy Star rates heat pumps using the SEER system. SEER stands for “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio”. The SEER represents how effective and efficient the output of your heat pump is in relation to the amount of power required to use it. This number is based on a hypothetical average climate in the United States. The higher your SEER, the more efficient your heat pump is. Choosing a heat pump with a SEER rating that meets Energy Star recommendations for your climate is the best way to get an efficient unit. A SEER rating of at least 14.5 is generally suitable for most US climates, however, heat pumps are not recommended for regions that see subfreezing temperatures for many days consecutively.

Step 2 – Determine Your Costs

One of the great things that the SEER does for consumers is give them the opportunity to figure out the operating cost of new appliances before actually installing them and receiving an electricity bill. Using your electricity company's billing rates, you can use the Energy Star power usage rating to determine the cost of power for the unit.

Simply multiple your utility cost per kilowatt hour by the number of hours you estimate active use for heating and cooling, and the energy rating for that particular heat pump. This will give you a good idea of how much your unit will cost, and is a great way to use Energy Star ratings to maximize the cost-savings of your heating and cooling purchase.

Step 3 – Be Efficient!

The Energy Star program's main purpose is to reduce the impact of powering utilities on both your wallet and the earth. By creating an energy efficient environment, you will be able to reduce the amount of strain put on your heat pump, and increase the life of your appliance. Take into consideration the amount of heating and cooling you need to be reasonably comfortable, but also consider that each degree of temperature differential between the indoors and the outdoors equals a substantial amount of your electric or gas bill.

Energy Star appliances work best in conjunction with whole-house decisions to become more efficient and conserve power wherever possible. Easy ideas for greening your home include closing blinds during hot sunny days to reduce thermal gain, and properly insulating walls, windows and doors during all seasons to help protect and insulate your home's thermal mass. Efficient appliances combined with these energy saving techniques are the most effective way to reduce energy consumption and save money on power bills.