Heating and Cooling Equipment Upgrades — Simplified

June 05, 2018

The task of having to replace your heating or cooling equipment only pops up once every decade or so, but the process can seem overwhelming. The good news is we’ve shortened the list of things to consider, helping you avoid information overflow.

Here are five factors to help you choose equipment that will save you money in the long run AND boost your home’s comfort.


1. Efficiency ratings ­– it’s about numbers

Heating and cooling equipment literally tells you how efficient it is with efficiency ratings, which is very convenient for you. Just look to the numbers – the higher the number, the more money you save on energy costs in the long run.

For cooling systems, the rating is called the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or SEER. SEER measures the efficiency of the entire cooling season. And again, the higher the number, the more efficient the system is. For central air conditioners and central heat pumps, a SEER of 16 or more is considered efficient. For mini-split heat pumps, look for a SEER of 18 or more.

Heating systems have a similar rating but it’s called AFUE— annual fuel utilization efficiency. AFUE is expressed as a percentage of the amount of fuel converted to heat. Older furnaces and boilers had AFUE ratings somewhere between 60-80 percent. Today’s equipment is much more efficient. For natural gas systems, efficient furnaces have AFUE ratings of 95 percent and boilers have AFUE ratings of 90 percent.

Always look for ENERGY STAR® certified equipment as the certification is a good indication that the product is energy efficient.


2. Sizing – not too big, not too small, but just right

It may be tempting to go big on equipment, to ensure you have more than enough heat or cooling capacity than you would ever need. But bigger isn’t always better, and it certainly isn’t more efficient. A cooling system that is too big will cool your home quickly, but it won’t dehumidify your home as effectively. No one wants to be cool but clammy and uncomfortable.

A heating system that is too large will run for a brief period of time to get up to temperature quickly. But then the system shuts off, turns on, and repeats. This has the same negative effect that stop-and-go driving has on your car.

On the flip side, heating and cooling equipment that is too small won’t get the job done.

So be like Goldilocks—go with the size that is just right. Rely on a qualified contractor to identify the proper equipment size for your home’s needs. Also, consider asking your contractor to perform a Manual J calculation to ensure your system is properly sized.


3. Insulation – BFFs with your heating and cooling system

When thinking about upgrading heating and cooling equipment, don’t forget to consider your home’s insulation. Working together the heating and cooling system PLUS insulation keeps you comfortable and your equipment running efficiently all year long.

Here’s how. The appropriate amount of insulation prevents summer heat from getting into your home and keeps your A/C from working overtime. The same goes for the winter and your heating equipment, where insulation helps keep the heat inside your home from escaping to the outside.

So if you upgrade your equipment without determining whether you need more insulation, you may not be saving as much.

To determine whether you need insulation, schedule a no-cost home energy assessment. If insulation measures are recommended, you will qualify for rebates of at least 75 percent off the cost of insulation improvements.


4. Rebates & incentives –  Help you save

The sponsors of Mass Save® recognize that high efficiency heating and cooling equipment typically comes at a higher cost. But that should not stand in the way of choosing equipment that saves you money in the long run and reduces your impact on the environment.

By choosing efficient equipment, you can take advantage of generous rebates that help lower those equipment costs. Access rebates up to $2,500 for efficient heating and cooling equipment.

If you replace aging, but still functioning heating or cooling equipment, you may be eligible for Early Heating and Cooling Equipment Replacement rebates up to $3,250.


5. Financing opportunities – so much easier on your pocket

Even factoring in rebates, the high upfront costs of any heating or cooling system can feel daunting. By taking advantage of low-cost financing, you can keep those costs friendlier on your wallet. Through the HEAT Loan program, the sponsors of Mass Save also offer zero percent interest financing up to $25,000 with terms up to seven years toward qualified heating and cooling system replacements.

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