The Top Energy-Saving Air Conditioners: Our Contractors Decide

From on May 17, 2011 in Air Conditioning & Heating


It should come as no surprise to you that we’re picky about our contractors. CalFinder ensures accreditation on multiple levels before certifying pros, and expects that they, in turn, are selective in choosing remodeling products and equipment for your home.

But to what extent? I decided to do a little digging and find out which air conditioning and heating brands our contractors use most, and why. After all, the better the system, the more cash saved on energy bills.

To see how much it costs to upgrade your own air conditioning system, click here.

The Most Sought-After Air Conditioners

Thirty-two interviews later, I discovered that our major HVAC installers generally use two brands, Trane and Kenmore, with Lennox and Carrier coming in third and fourth. Here’s the data breakdown:

  • Trane = 34%
  • Kenmore = 32%
  • Lennox = 17%
  • Carrier = 12%
  • Other/Unspecified = 5%

So what makes Trane air conditioners so sought-after? Two words: energy savings.

As one HVAC installer in Phoenix, Arizona put it, “It’s the Energy Star effect.” Most Trane air conditioning systems boast the Energy Star label, or the government seal qualfying those products for federal cash rebates. Homeowners take one look and immediately see dollar signs, especially in a city like Phoenix, where air conditioners are a necessity.

By choosing Energy Star, CalFinder contractors offer systems that cut energy use and return a federal rebate at the same time. In fact, if you install Energy Star HVAC this year, you can earn up to $500 back from the government. It’s a win-win all around.

The Higher the SEER Rating, the Better the Savings

annual savings trane hvac

In addition, I found that SEER ratings on Trane air conditioners exceed the industry standard. Not sure what that means? SEER ratings are simply a government-mandated scale for measuring efficiency.

Since January, 2006, the Department of Energy has required that all new HVAC systems achieve a SEER rating of 13 or above. Since they all meet this standard, Trane matched air conditioning systems save 38-59% more on your energy bills than older units, which typically run on poor efficiences of 10 or below.

That doesn’t mean you need to run out and purchase the highest 19.5 SEER-rated air conditioner you can find. But if you did, your payback would be surprisingly quick. Highly rated systems cost more upfront, but then pay for themselves in a few years.

Which HVAC Systems Qualify for Rebates?

hvac rebate money

If you’re upgrading your HVAC, it’s important to know exactly what you’re looking for. Let’s break it down.

  • Split system air conditioner and heat pump units with a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) of 14 or above
  • Split system air conditioner and heat pump units with HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) of 8.0 or above
  • Gas furnaces with am AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) of 90% or above

Note that CalFinder contractors will help you determine the proper-sized system for your home, as well as how to apply for rebates. Get in touch for a cost estimate by clicking here, and enjoy your air conditioning this summer.