HVAC systems are generally rated as being environmentally friendly based on their efficiency — that is, how much energy they use. Newer models use much less energy than models from even 10 years ago, with manufacturers always finding ever-new ways to boost efficiency.

However, as HVAC systems become more efficient, they become more technically sophisticated. As systems become more sophisticated, they can also cost more, so it becomes a balancing act: How green a machine can you afford?

To help you get going, we’ve got some recommendations for the top environmental HVAC systems. Otherwise, consult Energy Star’s extensive guide, where you’re bound to find something for you.

Central HVAC Systems and Heat Pumps

Your central HVAC system probably runs on a combination of gas and electricity. Gas is a fossil fuel and leaves a carbon footprint. But a heat pump, which can use ducts to distribute conditioned air, generally runs just on electricity, although during cold spells, some heat pumps will default to a gas-powered furnace for backup heating. In general, a heat pump is more efficient.

Ductless mini split heat pumps are even more efficient, in that they need not send conditioned air through ductwork — where it loses energy — for distribution.

Electric furnaces obviously don’t use gas, but they require a lot of energy to heat a home.

Most Efficient HVAC Systems

Daikin DX20VC — High-efficiency central air conditioner with variable-speed scroll and swing compressors. Can reach up to 23 SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) cooling performance.

Fujitsu Halcyon Heat Pump Model LZAH1 — This ductless mini split achieves up to 33.1 SEER and 18 EER (energy efficient ratio), plus a low outdoor operating temperature, down to -15 degrees F. It also has a quiet compressor.

Lennox XC25 AC — Variable capacity-cooling central AC with efficiency up to 26 SEER and 16.5 EER. It’s most efficient when paired with Lennox communicating indoor equipment and the Lennox Wi-Fi thermostat.

Rheem Prestige® R98V — Furnaces achieve AFUEs (annual fuel efficiency equivalency) up to 98.7% with modulating gas valve and variable speed blower.

For more on environmental HVAC, contact Mowery Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.