When we moved into a new home, there were quite a few projects that needed to be completed. We were faced with an ancient roof, windows that leaked air, outdated appliances and an inefficient heating and cooling system. Because of the severe weather in our local area and the cost of temperature control, replacing the furnace and air conditioner were a priority. We considered the new HVAC system as an opportunity to enhance comfort, air quality and the value of our home. A modern central air conditioner can be expected to last around fifteen years with annual maintenance. A new gas furnace often performs reliably for upwards of twenty years. Since we expected to live with our choices for quite some time, we were willing to spend more to benefit from a better quality heating and cooling system. Since we plan to remain in the house long-term, we knew the investment into a high-efficiency system would pay for itself in lower monthly energy costs year after year. My husband and I took some time to research the different manufacturers, models and efficiency ratings on the current market. Air conditioner efficiency is provided by a unit’s SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating, which is displayed on a yellow Energy Guide sticker. The current federal mandated minimum is a 14 SEER, but there are Energy Star rated options that achieve up to a 26% SEER. The federal minimum AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating for a gas furnace is 78%. There are adaptable-speed models that offer up to a 98% AFUE rating. We chose top-of-the-line heating and cooling equipment that includes features such as wifi connectivity and zone control.