Energy efficiency is a top priority for building heating and cooling systems. When our customers come to us for individual unit replacements or entire system upgrades, it is frequently cited as a reason. Newer, more technologically advanced, and more energy-efficient HVAC units provide distinct advantages, including tax breaks, increased comfort levels for building occupants, and lower energy bills.
How is Energy Efficiency Measured?
Air conditioning unit effectiveness is measured by a SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, with higher numbers indicating greater energy efficiency. A SEER rating indicates how an air conditioning system or a heat pump performs, and how much electricity the unit uses throughout an entire season versus widely varying outdoor conditions.
Although minimum SEER rating requirements differ depending on where you are located, there are specific key ratings to keep in mind when planning to upgrade or replace your building’s system:
- The minimum federal SEER rating for an air conditioner is 13,
- The minimum SEER rating to qualify for an Energy Star rating is 14.5,
- The minimum SEER rating for light commercial use is 15,
- The minimum SEER requirement in New York State for split system heat pumps and split package heat pumps is 14.
You can find a full breakdown of minimum energy efficiency requirements here.
Two statistics indicate non-heat pump heating system efficiency. The AFUE, or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, measures the thermal combustion efficiency of furnaces, boilers, and water heaters. The minimum AFUE efficiency rating for a gas boiler is 90% and the minimum for an oil boiler is 87%.
The EER, or Energy Efficiency Ratio, is determined by the power input compared to its output. Energy efficiency requirements for boilers depend upon energy sources. A third metric, HSPF, is used only to measure heat pump and reversible air conditioning unit efficiency.
Is a Higher Rated Unit Really Worth the Investment?
The cost difference between a 14 SEER air conditioner versus a 17 SEER air conditioner can be significant. Our clients always ask us, “Is the investment really worth it?” The answer is an emphatic yes, for several distinct reasons:
- The overall savings in energy costs can be considerably more significant with a higher SEER unit.
- A unit with a higher SEER rating can provide a higher tax credit.
- A higher-rated SEER unit offers greater cooling efficiency and capability, keeping tenants or residents more comfortable.
Energy Efficiency and Local Law 97
In addition to the benefits listed above, building owners should consider government mandates. As efforts to reduce carbon footprints have increased, more focus has been placed on commercial buildings and their role in producing greenhouse gases and their overall impact on climate change, particularly in New York City. In 2019, the Climate Mobilization Act was passed, which included Intro. Bill 1253 (Building Retrofits), now known as Local Law 97. It mandates that buildings with more than 25,000 square feet must reduce 40% of their carbon emissions by 2030 or face stiff financial penalties. A higher-efficiency HVAC system can help with lowering a building’s carbon footprint.
Save with an Energy Efficient HVAC System Today
At Henick-Lane, we have more than 50 years of experience designing and implementing high-efficiency HVAC systems. Contact us using our form or call 718-786-7277 to get started if your commercial building needs a replacement or upgrades from its old heating or air conditioning system to a new, energy-efficient design. We look forward to hearing from you.