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How do I compare brands?

Ever heard the term, “You get what you pay for?” Choosing products of higher quality can mean longer lasting performance and fewer headaches (and expenses) down the road. Unfortunately, comparing quality between heating and cooling systems is not always easy. Here are three guidelines we suggest:

  • Select a brand name that you trust
  • Solicit recommendations
  • Look for 3rd party endorsements

Select a brand name that you trust

As a general rule, the bigger, better known brands will have a better reputation for quality and reliability – that’s how they got to be so well recognized. For example, Carrier products undergo a rigorous series of quality tests that begins during initial product development and continues with field-testing of hand-built prototypes. Many of Carrier’s quality checks during production are performed on every product they make, not just random samples. And, final products are run-tested. Every product they make is then backed by warranty protection of key components as well as the entire product.

Smaller companies and brand names you don’t recognize may not perform these types of tests. It is in your best interest to do a little more homework about the company itself and its quality/reliability testing procedures as well as their warranty programs. All of these areas can give you clues about the quality of the products they manufacture.

Solicit recommendations
Recommendations from friends, neighbors or trusted acquaintances can be helpful as well. Ask people you trust if they’ve had a new indoor comfort system installed. If they’re happy with what they’ve purchased, it may be worth you time to take a look at the products yourself, check the quality of installation, and feel the comfort. When doing so, remember that every home is different, and what may work in your friend’s home may not be the best solution for you.

Look for 3rd party endorsements

Product endorsements from independent ratings companies, government agencies, or consumer groups are generally good sources for reliable information. These entities have nothing to gain by praising a particular product, so you can typically trust the information and opinions they provide. Some third-party endorsements to look for may include:

  • EPA’s Energy Star
  • EPA’s Green Seal
  • Consumer Digest
Energy Star Program
Energy Star promotes residential energy efficiency because household energy use contributes to air pollution, including:

  • 20 percent of all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions
  • 26 of all U.S. sulfur dioxide emissions
  • 15 of all U.S. nitrogen oxides emissions

By using more energy-efficient appliances and heating and cooling equipment, and constructing more energy-efficient homes, we can reduce this pollution — and save money at the same time!

FurnacesWhy is Energy Star promoting energy-efficient furnaces?
Furnaces are the most commonly used residential heating system in the United States.

  • Approximately 38 million gas furnaces are currently operating in U.S. homes and approximately 2.5 million of these furnaces are replaced annually
  • A 15-year-old furnace may be only 66% efficient and cost up to $730 per year to operate
  • A new high-efficiency furnace can be 90% efficient or greater and cost as little as $525 to operate annually
  • Choosing to purchase a furnace in the 90-96% efficiency range can reduce pollution and save homeowners hundreds of dollars over the equipment’s lifetime.

What is Energy Star doing about it?
Industry-leading furnace manufacturers have signed agreements with Energy Star to produce and promote high-efficiency furnaces that are 90% efficient or greater. These high-efficiency gas furnaces squeeze energy savings from furnaces using an advanced “condensing” technology. Products qualifying will be identified by the Energy Star logo.

How do you purchase an Energy Star furnace?
Purchasing energy-efficient products is easy – simply ask for Energy Star models when working with a contractor to select a new furnace. Most of the major furnace manufacturers have decided to participate in the program.How much money can my Energy Star furnace save?
Over 10 years an Energy Star furnace could save:

  • $1,700 relative to an old furnace
  • $920 relative to a new standard furnace.

*Savings based on $732 average annual heating bill from a 1993 American Gas Association survey for the Middle Atlantic region. Estimates for old furnace AFUE = 66%; standard furnace = 78%; and Energy Star = 92%. Actual savings for individual homeowners will vary based on geographical area of the country, local gas rates and the age and size of the home.For more information about Energy Star furnaces, please contact: Peter Banwell, Manager, Energy Star Furnaces, U.S. EPA (6202J), 401 M Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20460. Phone: (202) 233-9408. Fax: (202) 233-9578.

Air conditioners and heat pumps

About half of all energy used by households goes to heating and cooling the home. Over 7% of all homes are heated and cooled with heat pumps and 24% of new homes are built with them.

  • Seventy-seven percent of new homes are now built with central air conditioning, up from 43 % in 1972
  • Over 40% of all existing homes now have central air conditioning
  • In 1994, over 1 million air-source heat pumps and almost 4 million central air conditioners were shipped from manufacturers, the most ever.

By increasing the efficiency of new heat pump and air conditioning units being installed, we can dramatically reduce the nation’s energy consumption and resultant pollution. This will also help utilities offset their peak loads and avoid having to construct costly new power plants. More efficient equipment has the added benefit of helping consumers save money on their energy bills.

What is Energy Star doing about it?
Energy Star has formed a new program with air conditioner and heat pump manufacturers. The Energy Star heat pump and air-conditioner program is a voluntary partnership between manufacturers and Energy Star to stimulate the market for high-efficiency products. The Energy StarSM logo is a symbol that consumers can look for to identify heat pumps and air conditioners that save energy and prevent pollution. Energy Star air conditioners are 20 percent more efficient than ones currently meeting the federal government standards. Energy Star air-source heat pumps and central air conditioners could save consumers over $350 million per year by the year 2000 in heating and air conditioning bills. Consumers will easily recognize the new, more efficient products because they will be identified by the Energy Star logo shown above.

Purchasing Energy Star heat pumps and Air Conditioners
Utilities all over North America are promoting high-efficiency heat pumps and air conditioners because they help reduce peak demand and provide higher customer satisfaction. Energy Star heat pumps and air conditioners also produce a variety of other benefits:

  • Energy bills are dramatically reduced
  • All units come with a manufacturer’s warranty
  • Pollution is reduced through the use of high-efficiency products.

In addition to asking for Energy Star when purchasing heat pumps and air conditioners, consumers should consider the following:

  • Make sure the unit is properly sized and installed to ensure maximum comfort and efficiency.
  • Contractors should be well trained in the proper installation of air-source heat pumps and central air conditioners.
  • The duct work should be installed properly, since an improperly installed system can dramatically reduce efficiency.

How Much Money Can My Energy Star Unit Save?
Energy Star heat pumps and air conditioners can save users a great deal of money by reducing electricity bills. Look for the Energy Star logo when purchasing these products, to be sure of lowering you energy bill.For more information about Energy Star air-source heat pumps and central air conditioners, please contact:

For more information about Energy Star heat pumps and central air conditioners, please contact: Peter Banwell, Manager, Energy Star Furnaces, U.S. EPA (6202J), 401 M Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20460. Phone: (202) 233-9408. Fax: (202) 233-9578.

This information courtesy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Call SAYCO or email today (520) 887-2926 to schedule a professional repair or FREE estimate for your new air conditioning or heating system.

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