For the thousands of Valley residents whose homes are not served by natural gas, upgrading a heating and cooling system to one of the most energy-efficient technologies available today has been difficult to do.
But this year, that’s changing.
Up until now, highly-efficient inverter systems, which have reported power savings as high as 50 percent in energy-efficient homes – according to the Department of Energy’s Energy Star program – have been available primarily for gas furnace systems. Meanwhile, some electric heat pump owners have been waiting for these better systems to come to market.
Some brands have rolled out heat pump inverters, but their SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating usually doesn’t top 17, says Josh Morehart, president of Morehart Air Conditioning & Heating, in Phoenix. However, on Jan. 1, Amana released its AVZC20 high efficiency heat pump, with inverter technology, offering up to 21 SEER performance.
“This is the next big step in [inverter] technology. We’ve actually had a lot of customers waiting for it.” Morehart added. “If your home was all electric, you really didn’t have an option like this in the past.”
Inverters and efficiency
The Department of Energy uses SEER ratings to measure the efficiency of heating and cooling systems. The higher the SEER rating, the lower the cost of operation and the greater the overall efficiency of the system.
Long used in Europe, inverters run on DC (direct current), as opposed to AC (alternating current) power. Using DC power with a variable-speed compressor allows the machine to only use the minimum amount of energy needed to increase the temperature in a space.
Morehart makes a comparison between a standard light switch and a dimmer. A traditional switch turns the bulb completely on or off, while a dimmer adds only the minimal amount of power needed to increase or decrease the illumination of a bulb.
“With an inverter, it’s never running full blast like what you see with older systems, and that really helps with energy savings,” he added.
Sound control, installation
Because inverters rarely work at full capacity to cool a space, the AVZC20 is also very quiet. The Amana system even comes acoustically-engineered with a compressor sound-reduction cover and high density sound control blanket. “People sit outside on their patio and don’t hear their own systems. Since so many homes are built close together here, they start to realize how loud their neighbor’s system is,” Morehart noted.
When shopping for inverter heat pump systems, the HVAC pro cautions consumers to buy from licensed dealers who have been specifically trained to install and maintain them. Trained installers know to watch for certain details that can help an inverter system perform at its peak, like, for example, assuring a system has proper clearances around it. They can even offer guidance on maintenance to help consumers maintain warranties and keep their systems working right.
With the AVZC20, Amana offers a lifetime warranty on the compressor. If an untrained or unlicensed dealer improperly installs the system, a homeowner could be in for a rude awakening if problems arise.
“Not all contractors are inverter contractors and not every Amana dealer is invited to sell these inverters,” Morehart said. “Training is absolutely critical.”
Morehart Air Conditioning & Heating enjoys an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. To learn more about energy efficiency solutions and AC and heating system safety for your home, visit us online or call (623) 566-0005.