Deep Energy Retrofit: HVAC Overhaul

Installing a highly efficient HVAC system in an older home will reduce energy bills.

When the HVAC system in Jeff Wilson's 70-year-old Cape Cod home broke five years ago, well before his Deep Energy Retrofit (DER) efforts, he used the opportunity to upgrade the old unit to a system that is 97 percent efficient. With other efficiency measures, including insulation and new windows, his energy bills will eventually be two-thirds less.

Jeff shopped around before settling on this Bryant air conditioner with a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) of 16. (The higher the number, the more efficient the system.) This unit works in concert with the 97-percent-efficient furnace with the variable-speed blower that allows Jeff to set the humidity level on his thermostat. This feature reduces air conditioning usage.

When choosing a new air conditioner or furnace, Jeff offers this tip: Buy the best system you can afford now. That way, as technology evolves, your system will remain relevant and continue to provide energy savings well into the future.

Here, Jeff outlines the features and benefits of the Bryant HVAC system he chose for his home. Those include: an efficient, maintenance-free motor; variable-speed control to adjust air flow based on the season and manage humidity; an easy-to-replace filter; a pre-filter that captures airborne particles; and greater heat return to the home in winter for efficient air filtering.

Jeff's furnace capacity is perfectly sized for his home, which is important to maximize the efficiency of the system. "If the system kicks on and cools down the house in five minutes, that sounds like a good thing — but the compressor will burn out years before it is supposed to," he points out. Bigger is not better. Size the HVAC to the size of your home, he advises.