For some people, money is the most important factor in every decision they make. And if you’re a family on a budget, who can blame you? But an HVAC contractor (and many other people) could use the lure of an incredible bargain to get your money before you’ve taken the time to investigate what your best long-term option is. High quality heating and air conditioning units and service can be economical, but always going for “budget” buys will end up costing you more down the line.
So-called “budget” Portland HVAC units are usually the least efficient. Which means while your initial cost is amazingly cheap, your monthly rates skyrocket in winter and summer. Paying for a new, high efficiency furnace will cost you more up front, but in the years that follow, your utility bills will be lower than if you took the “budget” route, and your high efficiency machine is less likely to incur service costs.
How Do I Know Which Is More Efficient?
As a general rule, the least expensive units are the least efficient, but a system of ratings is in place to give you all the information you need to make a smart purchase.
The Department of Energy produces annual efficiency ratings for each region of the US, governed by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). A higher SEER rating signals a higher efficiency unit, and equals lower overall lifetime operating costs and a more environmentally friendly system.
On average, a SEER 13 unit will emit 50% more carbon dioxide than a SEER 23, along with costing 50% more to operate over its lifetime.
How To Decide What’s Right For You
Understandably, a SEER 23 HVAC unit isn’t affordable for everyone. Should you go into debt or dip into your retirement fund for a top of the line, high efficiency machine? Probably not.
We recommend purchasing a machine as high above the Department of Energy’s standard recommendation as you can comfortably afford, as you’ll eventually recoup your costs over the lifetime of the unit. Even the difference between a SEER 13 and a SEER 16 unit can save an estimated $2000 in lifetime operating costs.
So, although it’s tempting, be sure to look before you leap into purchasing an unbelievably cheap “budget” HVAC unit. Not only are higher efficiency machines kinder to the environment, but they’ll land you with cheaper utility bills, and will increase the resale value of your home in the event that you end up relocating.