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January 5, 2023

2023 is here, and for many Marin, Napa, and Sonoma county homeowners, that means setting some goals for the new year. Whether your goals are around fitness, family, home repairs, finances, or something else, this the perfect time of the year to ensure you are setting yourself up for successfully achieving your resolutions. If your New Year’s resolution is to save energy or lower home expenses, energy efficient HVAC can help. We are going to review how upgrading to an energy efficient HVAC system can mean big savings for your home’s energy usage and your pocketbook.

What is Energy Efficient HVAC?

Do you know what consumes the most energy in your home? It’s your HVAC system. The average household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy bills, with nearly half of this going to heating and cooling costs (EnergyStar).

An efficient HVAC system is cost-effective when the lifetime energy savings (from avoided energy costs over the life of the product, discounted to present value) exceed the additional up-front cost (if any) compared to a less efficient option ( To put this simply, compared to standard units, energy-efficient HVAC uses less energy and costs less to operate without affecting performance and comfort.

An energy efficient HVAC system can be determined by two things:

SEER: Seasonal energy efficiency ratio or SEER, measures an air conditioner’s cooling output ratio, divided by the energy it uses in watt-hours. SEER ratings for modern air conditioners range from 13 to 21. The higher the number, the more efficient the cooling appliance will be. The U.S. Department of Energy enforces minimum SEER requirements that differ by geographical region.

A SEER ratio is calculated over an entire cooling season using a constant indoor temperature and a variety of outdoor temperatures ranging from 60 degrees to 100 plus. This is how it simulates a typical season.

Keep in mind that SEER ratio is a maximum efficiency rating, like the miles per gallon for your car. Say your car gets 34 miles per gallon on the highway; however, if you’re stuck in stop and go traffic it’s a lot less efficient. The same goes for your air conditioner. If your SEER ratio is 20, that’s the maximum efficiency and it could be lower depending on conditions.

AFUE: AFUE, annual fuel utilization efficiency, refers to the percentage of heat used by a furnace or boiler converted into heating your home. This is a measurement of how well your furnace uses fuel to heat your household. The higher the rating, the more efficient your heating unit.

A unit that has above 95 percent AFUE is converting most of its fuel into heat. Simply put; if you have a furnace with an 80 percent AFUE rating, you’re losing 20 cents of every dollar of your heating bill, or $20 for every $100 you spend.

The above is just an example. Your furnace probably has an AFUE rating of 78 percent or higher, unless you have an old furnace. In 1992, the U.S. Department of Energy established new manufacturing standards for furnaces, requiring them to be at least 78 percent efficient. That number rose to 80 percent in 2013, and most modern high-quality units hit 98 percent efficiency (

How Energy Efficient HVAC Can Help you Save Energy and Money

If you don’t have an energy efficient HVAC system in your home, chances are it is costing you… quite possibly a lot.

If your outdated HVAC system is causing you to call for repairs or servicing several times a year, it might be time to consider an upgrade. A new system can help you enjoy more consistent heating and cooling throughout your home and lower your utility bill. Energy efficient HVAC systems have several other benefits as well:

  • Increased comfort because energy efficient units produce more even heating and cooling, help maintain a constant temperature in every room in your home, provide consistent levels of airflow, and have superior humidity control.
  • Lower noise level due to newer HVAC units being designed with sound-absorbing materials and technology.
  • Better environmental impact because energy efficient systems use less electricity and burn less fuel than older systems. High efficiency systems use up to one-third less fuel than older models, which means they help conserve more of our natural resources.


If your New Year’s Resolution involves saving energy or money, an energy efficient HVAC system can help. Contact Bragg Cooling, Heating & Plumbing. We are committed to providing fast, cost-effective HVAC solutions for homeowners throughout the North Bay area. Contact us today.


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