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Understanding HVAC System Labels

August 13, 2018

By Will Housh of

Just like other equipment and product labels in your home, your heating and cooling equipment is labeled to provide you with key information about your system. On your air conditioner, heat pump, furnace, boiler, or other HVAC equipment, you’ll find labeling that tells you about system energy use, as well as other labeling that will help you care for your system.

EnergyGuide Labels

EnergyGuide labels are found on major home appliances such as heating and cooling equipment, refrigerators, water heaters, televisions, and more. This label is mandated by the U.S. Department of Energy, and discloses the product’s energy efficiency information or approximate annual energy cost. Efficiency and operating costs will vary based on installation and utility rates.

The EnergyGuide air conditioner label on your heating or cooling equipment tells you:

  • Energy efficiency rating (AFUE for furnaces and boilers, SEER for air conditioners and heat pumps when cooling, HSPF for heat pumps when heating)
  • Where the unit falls efficiency-wise compared to other units
  • Estimated annual costs to operate
  • System information, such as the type of system, fuel type, and features

How the EnergyGuide Label Helps You

The EnergyGuide label’s valuable information can help you make smarter buying decisions when it’s time to purchase new heating and cooling equipment. These labels are affixed directly to each unit, so you can directly compare information from one unit to the next.

Estimating Operating Costs

In general, the higher the unit’s energy efficiency rating, the less it will cost to run. EnergyGuide labeling makes it easy for consumers to see just how much they may pay when operating a specific unit. A rating doesn’t tell you the approximate cost, but the EnergyGuide label shows you what that energy efficiency rating means in dollars.

While many factors affect your actual operating costs, such as usage, household occupancy, and comfort preferences, the approximate annual operating costs listed on the EnergyGuide label are a great starting point that will help you estimate your heating and cooling costs for the season.

Comparing Apples to Apples

Units with differing features or fuel types can cost more to purchase compared to other units, and these features may affect operating costs. On the EnergyGuide label, you can easily see the type of unit you are evaluating, the unit’s features, and fuel type so you know you are comparing equal products.

Simply looking at purchase price or general category of product isn’t a good way to know you are comparing equal units. With the information presented on the label, you’ll know exactly what you are looking at. With all the information available about a heating or cooling system, you will know what you are getting when you make a purchase, and how it stacks up with other units in the same category.


ENERGY STAR is a program run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that presents standards for high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment, as well as other household appliances. Heating and cooling units that bear the ENERGY STAR label have met these federal standards for energy efficiency. Other HVAC products that may earn ENERGY STAR labels include thermostats and some indoor air quality equipment.

If your unit bears the blue ENERGY STAR label, you’ll know your unit is a high-efficiency HVAC model. Products with the ENERGY STAR label offer reduced energy costs and energy efficiencies 10 to 20 percent greater than units that have not earned the label.

In addition to saving you money on your annual operating costs, purchasing and installing ENERGY STAR labeled HVAC equipment may qualify you to receive tax credits for the year the unit is placed in service.

Service Reminder Labels

In addition to energy consumption labeling, your heating and cooling equipment may also have service labels from your HVAC contractor. Many contractors add these labels to equipment to inform homeowners when preventative maintenance, furnace filter changes, and other service is due.

These labels are a great way to remember when your furnace, air conditioner, or heat pump needs professional care. Preventative maintenance should be performed twice a year – once for heating season, once for cooling season. The service sticker on your equipment will tell you when your system’s last date of service was so that you can schedule your maintenance tune-up on time each season.

Aside from these benefits, the service label from your HVAC contractor can also serve as a record of the care your system has received. This may come in handy when selling your home – potential buyers will be able to see directly that your system has been professionally serviced throughout the years. Preventative maintenance works to extend system service life and reduce breakdowns, which can provide value to buyers. Heating and Cooling Resources is the world’s leading resource site for heating and cooling information. If you have questions about your home’s heating and cooling system, or if you need your system repaired or replaced, browse’s easy-to-access online resources and find trusted contractors near you via their HVAC Contractor Directory.

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