Is the Most Expensive HVAC System the Best?

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Many homeowners ask us, “What’s the best HVAC system?” High end units can offer great performance, but they will likely also come at a higher cost. Frankly, the cost of a new HVAC system is far less important than making sure what you purchase is a good fit for your home.

Gathering all the information you need to buy an HVAC system can be intimidating. It is easy to get overwhelmed and feel confused. To help homeowners, we’ve put together this HVAC system buying guide to help you make a more informed decision.

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What Makes the Best HVAC System?

There are many factors and features that should be considered when choosing an HVAC system. The importance of each is up to you, and a qualified HVAC technician can help guide you through all the information and features to ensure you pick the right system.

Consider these HVAC system factors:


Capacity is the easiest factor to account for. Simply ask your HVAC contractor to perform a heat load calculation analysis, and then you will know what capacity range you need in an HVAC for your home and square footage.

It’s important not to choose something too small, or it will be unable to condition your whole home. On the other hand, an HVAC system that is too large can suffer from power cycling, where it turns on and off frequently. Power cycling puts a lot of stress on components and shortens a unit’s life expectancy.


HVAC systems have seen significant technological leaps over the years. Greater efficiency in a system translates directly into utility savings every month. Higher efficiency units do cost more upfront, however. Choosing an HVAC efficiency rating will have the highest impact on price and future utility bills.

Luckily for consumers, the efficiency rating for HVAC systems has been standardized, allowing homeowners to compare apples to apples for the most part.

What Air Conditioning Efficiency SEER Rating Do I Need?

For the AC side of the HVAC system, Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is the rating system. Most homeowners choose a SEER rating of between 15 and 18. A SEER rating of 15 to 18 gives the homeowner an excellent mix of energy efficiency and upfront cost.

Beginning in 2023, 14 is the minimum SEER rating allowed by the federal government for new production units in the northern states and 15 in the southern states (including Kentucky).

What Heating Efficiency AFUE Rating Do I Need?

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Heating efficiency is measured in Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, or AFUE. It measures how efficiently a furnace or boiler converts fuel into heat for your home over the course of a year on a scale of 0 to 100 percent. The higher the percentage, the more efficient the unit.

For 2023, new furnaces in northern states must have at least 90 AFUE, or 90 percent efficiency. Southern states, like Kentucky, have a minimum of 81 AFUE.

When shopping for furnaces, you’ll notice that there aren’t many between 80 and 90, and that is because there is a significant jump in the required technology and hardware to make it to 90 AFUE. Gas furnaces must have two-stage or modulating gas valves, variable-speed blowers, and secondary heat exchangers, which all add to the price of an efficient furnace. The best AFUE rating on the market is currently 98.5.

For our customers around Cincinnati, Dayton, and Northern Kentucky, we recommend a furnace in the 90 to 95 AFUE range.

Programmable Thermostat Compatibility

Any furnace you buy will be compatible with at least some programmable and smart thermostats. However, not all furnaces provide the same levels of information. The more information the furnace can provide a smart thermostat, the better it can adjust your home’s temperature and save the most money.

Purchase an HVAC system you know will be compatible with your preferred thermostat brand or system.

HVAC Air Quality

Different systems will have different levels of control over the air quality in your home. From the type of filter accepted to compatibility with air filtration or purification systems, your HVAC system can add features that give you greater control over your home’s air quality.

While normal air filters are required just to keep your equipment safe, better air filters can reduce how much dust and allergens are floating around in your home. UV lights and air purification systems can kill bacteria, viruses, and mold spores to keep those microbes from spreading.

While many air filtration and purification systems can be jury-rigged onto an HVAC system, some units are designed for those systems to be built in, which makes installation easier and improves effectiveness.


Some HVAC systems are fairly loud depending on the unit and where it is installed. Consult with your HVAC technician to ensure you choose an HVAC unit that is a good fit for your home and noise tolerance levels.


Picking the best HVAC system doesn’t necessarily mean picking the most expensive one. On the other hand, don’t cheap out on a system either. Choose one that will fit your needs and budget, and don’t forget to consider efficiency and durability. Over the lifespan of your HVAC unit, the efficiency can pay for itself with lower energy bills.

Choosing an HVAC Contractor You Can Trust

Regardless of what you pay, the HVAC system itself is actually secondary to the company that recommends, installs, and services it. Even the most expensive system will perform poorly if it is not properly installed and maintained, so choosing the best and most trustworthy service provider is critical.

A qualified HVAC technician will use their expertise to make the best recommendation for your home. Most systems, regardless of cost, will only operate as well as the company you hire to install and service it. The company should help you answer these questions:

  • What level of efficiency is right for your home?
  • What size unit does your home require?
  • What systems, if any, have a poor performance record?
  • Which systems are too new to have a proven track record?

Trusting your technician is the most important thing to consider. You are making an important investment, so ensure you get your home the most efficient, cost-effective system.

Apollo Home offers expert HVAC system replacement and installation services in Cincinnati, Dayton, and Northern Kentucky. Contact us today to get started.

"Ernie & Mike did a superb job on my new furnace and A/C installation. Despite having more than a day’s work to do, they came in and stayed until the job was done. They were organized, efficient, and protected the rest of the house well. Got both furnace and A/C installed the same day. Ernie was courteous, informative, and clearly knew his job better than anyone I’ve encountered before. The units look so good guests now get The Tour of our new system. Apollo is clearly not a fly-by-night company. I would recommend them to anyone in need of a new furnace and/or A/C."
- Jerry A.
"I called Apollo because of a water leak I thought I had in our upstairs shower going into the kitchen. Robbie came and assured me everything was fine & looked at all the other plumbing. He ended up changing a few pipes for our washer & clearing a drain. He was very nice & knowledgeable with all my questions. I ended up signing up for the care plan & was very happy with my service."
- Cassandra B.
"The team at Apollo exceeded my expectations. As a business owner, my attention to the details and commitment to providing excellent service is high. From the sales rep. to the installation team, everyone’s performance was outstanding. For example, the installation team went to great lengths to protect our floors, placing floor runners and across the wood floors and up the stairs. They even were spot washing walls upon their departure. I highly recommend this company."
- Randy B.
"We scheduled an estimate AND a tune-up. We knew something was wrong with our furnace, but hoped we could make it through the rest of the season. Upon telling Bill what our furnace was doing, he warned us immediately what the possible outcome was going to be; a cracked heat exchanger. He watched the flames roll backward, tested carbon monoxide levels, which were so high they meter’s last reading was 5,600 before saying “high”. He immediately shut it down, tagged it, and explained that with levels that high and children in our home he wanted off right away. He continued his inspection and showed us via a camera that not only was it cracked in multiple places, but had holes all over it. He gave us a few options for repairing it; his knowledge as well as genuine concern was beneficial and refreshing. Luckily we also scheduled an estimator, Micah, to come too and we were able to get costs between repairing and replacing (with several options). We decided to replace with a much higher efficiency furnace and one sized properly to our home. Hands down, not only did they both provide us great service and knowledge, but without sounding dramatic, they may have saved our lives. This was our first time calling Apollo, but it won’t be our last."
- Sarah B.
"Apollo is an excellent company. I always receive great service. Alex A. was professional and friendly. He kept me informed during the process of checking my furnace and heat pump to make sure they were working properly. The company makes sure you are notified who is coming and when they are on the way. All my interactions with the company have been wonderful."
- Beverly S.



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