Purchasing Tips When Shopping for a New HVAC System

Purchasing a new HVAC system is a big decision. If you’re like most homeowners in Gloucester, VA, you want a system that offers reliable heating and cooling and low monthly energy bills. Whether you’re upgrading an existing air conditioner or are looking to make the switch to a heat pump, this guide will help you navigate your options.

HVAC System Product Types

HVAC systems are typically thought of as two main categories: air conditioners and heaters. But there are actually a variety of options. Here are some of the most popular residential heating and cooling systems.

  • Air-source heat pumps offer efficient performance in mild climates. Geothermal HVAC systems and water heaters also use this technology.
  • Central air conditioners are offered as packaged units or split systems. Equipment may be installed outside your home or in an attic or utility room.
  • Ductless mini-splits are available for spaces that are difficult to heat and cool.
  • Furnaces may burn heating oil, propane, or natural gas. High-efficiency models feature modulating burners and variable-speed blowers.

Efficiency Ratings

An easy way to compare equipment options is by looking at the product’s efficiency ratings. These numbers show you how much heating or cooling the system provides compared to the amount of energy used. Although each rating is different, higher numbers indicate greater efficiency.

  • Seasonal energy efficiency ratio 2 (SEER2) and energy efficiency ratio 2 (EER2) measure cooling performance in central AC equipment. SEER2 measures the system’s performance over the cooling season, while EER2 measures its output at a set temperature.
  • Heating seasonal performance factor 2 (HSPF2) measures heat pump efficiency. Currently, heat pumps (specifically split systems) must have a minimum rating of 7.5.
  • Annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) tells you how much energy gas or oil furnaces convert to heat. AFUE ratings differ for both systems, but each must meet the necessary standards.

Equipment Sizing

Our Comfort Specialists don’t automatically select the same size heater or air conditioner when we’re performing a replacement. Since your last installation, you may have made changes to your home, such as installing replacement windows, building an addition, or adding extra insulation, or your previous installer may have used rule-of-thumb calculations to estimate your home’s heating and air conditioning needs. At Peninsula Heating & Air (PHA), we perform detailed load calculations according to Manual J published by Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA). These calculations consider a variety of factors that make your home unique.

  • Orientation
  • Total living space
  • Number of windows and doors
  • Sensible and latent heat gain
  • Energy loss
  • And more


National data shows that American homeowners replace about 3 million AC systems every year. Whether you’re planning ahead or facing emergency repairs, there’s no doubt that an HVAC replacement is a major purchase, so it’s important to stay on budget.


Numerous incentives are available to make your HVAC installation more affordable. This is a great option if you want to invest in energy-efficient equipment, such as a variable-speed air conditioner or geothermal heat pump. In many cases, rebates can offset the added cost of efficient equipment that can lower your energy bills year after year.

  • Energy Star provides a handy list of incentives and rebates available in your area.
  • The federal Energy Efficiency Home Improvement Credit allows you to deduct 30% of your HVAC installation costs up to $600 for air conditioners or heaters and up to $2,000 for heat pumps.
  • Again, each state is different and will offer different incentive programs.

Personalized Consultations for HVAC System Installations

The easiest way to learn more about investing in a new HVAC system is by scheduling a complimentary consultation with a member of the PHA team. We’ll assess your home’s heating and cooling needs and help you review your options. In the end, you’ll understand what we mean when we say every customer has the opportunity to experience the professional difference.

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