Lancaster Inspector’s Corner – How S.E.E.R Can Save You Money

Welcome Back Readers!  Thanks for stopping by, this post is the second in our Heat Pump article series by Matt Steger of WIN Home Inspection.

This week, Matt tells us what SEER means and more importantly, how paying attention to the SEER numbers can save you  lots of money on your utility bills, as well as what types are available to you.  Read on after the jump for more details, see you on the other side!

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What is SEER?

The Seasonal Energy Operating performance Ratio (or SEER) is used to rate operating performances of air conditioners and heat pumps (in cool mode).  One can think of it similar to miles per gallon (mpg) for a car.  A higher SEER unit consumes less energy than a lower SEER unit to give the same cooling effect, resulting in potentially big savings in your utility cost.  Manufacturers of cooling equipment can now only make systems with a 13 SEER rating or higher.  Also, ‘operating performance’ and ‘efficiency’ are not technically the same thing.

 Some homes using a heat pump also have propane (LP) or natural gas service available.  Instead of using electric resistive heating for emergency heat, some heat pump models can be modified with an LP or natural gas burner, to minimize electricity costs on those colder days and nights.  LP or natural gas systems can be very efficient and lower in cost to operate, so you can have the best of both.  There are also some newer heat pump systems just coming on the market that are considered ‘all climate’ models and can effectively work as a ‘real’ heat pump system well below freezing.  These are rather expensive currently, but we may see these becoming more popular and lower cost in another 10 years or more.

 Most heat pumps (in cool mode) and air conditioners should not be run when the outside temperature is less than 60~62 degs F.  Additionally, most heat pumps should not be run in heat mode if the outside temperature is higher than 60~62 degs F.  During a home inspection, the inspector will typically only run the heat pump in one mode and should report this and explain why in the home inspection report.

 Our area is generally about as far north as you will see heat pumps due to the length of cooling and heating seasons.  Remember, heat pumps are more expensive to run when it’s very cold outside since a backup heat is needed.  The further north you go, the cooling season is shorter and the heating season is longer.  In Minnesota, a heat pump would be extremely rare since most of its service would be in heat mode and quite expensively.  As you go south, heat pumps are more common due to the longer cooling season, plus since the winter months don’t get very cold, a backup heat source may not even be needed.

 Another type of heat pump that we see occasionally, is a ground source or geothermal heat pump.  This type of Lancaster Pa Home Inspectionssystem works on the principal that the ground temperature stays relatively stable throughout the year down a few hundred feet.  While air temperatures in this area generally range from 10 degs F to 90 degs F, the same seasonal temperature range in the ground at 200 feet may only vary from 50 degs F to 65 degs F.  In the winter, if the ground is still 50 degs F at 200 feet deep, this provides a nice source of free heat.  The same idea happens in the summer if the ground temperature at 200 feet deep is 65 degs F.  While a bit more expensive to install, a ground source heat pump can be less costly to operate over its life, even compared to an air source unit.

 Next week, we’ll discuss how a home inspector would inspect a heat pump system.

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So there you have it, good info for you if you are upgrading your HVAC system.  Tune in next week to find out how a home inspector can help ensure that the home you are buying has a properly functioning system and don’t forget to call Matt Steger with WIN Home Inspection at 717-361-9467 for all of your home inspection needs!

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If you have questions, need real estate advice or want to buy or sell a home, you can call or text me at 717-371-0557, email me at Jason@JasonsHomes.com or contact me at the office at 717-490-8999!

Your Friend in Real Estate,Lancaster PA Homes for Sale, Jason Burkholder

Jason Burkholder

Weichert, Realtors – Engle & Hambright

Search for Lancaster County Homes for sale at www.JasonsHomes.com by clicking here!

 

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