Understanding HVAC energy efficiency ratings, will benefit home owners in several ways. It will help you make informed decisions on when it makes sense to repair existing equipment. It will help you decide when it is time to upgrade to a more energy efficient model. When it comes time to replace your equipment, you will be able to compare the efficiency differences between your old and potential new systems.
Understanding HVAC energy efficiency ratings, will allow you to have a meaningful discussion with your HVAC contractor. You’ll be able to compare the different equipment options available to you, their cost, and long term energy saving potential. You will then be able to make a selection that works best for you.
Cooling Efficiency Measurement – SEER
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It is a measure of cooling efficiency for air conditioners and the cooling portion of heat pumps. (Note: A heat pump is actually a type of system that both heats and cools using the refrigerant.) The higher the SEER, the more energy efficient the unit and the more money you save on energy costs. In January 2006, the U.S. Department of Energy increased the minimum efficiency from 10 to 13 SEER. In January 2015, the minimum efficiency was further increased to 14 SEER for the warmer states in the South. Northern states are still under the 13 SEER minimum standard. Residential units are now available with a SEER of 14 – 20 for Southern states. Older units with a SEER as low as 8 could still be operational. An upgrade from an 8 to a 14 or higher SEER system could result in substantial money and energy savings.
Heating Efficiency Measurements – HSPF or AFUE
HSPF stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor. This rating is used in measuring the heating efficiency of a heat pump. The higher the number, the more energy efficient the heat pump system and the more money you save on energy costs. Heat pumps manufactured after 2005 are required to have a minimum of a 7.7 rating. In January 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy increased the minimum HSPF rating from 7.7 to 8.2 for all split-system heat pumps. Residential heat pumps are now available with HSPF ratings of up to 10.
AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. This is a measure of a gas or oil furnace’s efficiency in converting fuel to energy. For example, if your current furnace has an AFUE rating of 75%, it means that 25% of the fuel is wasted in the conversion process. The higher the rating, the more efficient the unit, the less fuel wasted and the more money you save on energy costs. Residential furnaces are now available with up to a 98.7% AFUE rating. Some older furnaces with an AFUE as low as 50% are still operational.
If you do not already know the HVAC energy efficiency ratings of your current system, it is usually easy to find on the Internet. You will need your brand name, model and serial number, typically located on the back or side of the cover on the outside unit. If you cannot find the efficiency ratings in an Internet search, contact the manufacturer. Knowing and understanding the energy efficiency ratings of your system will help you make more informed decisions. It is especially important if you’d like to reduce the amount of your energy bills and/or your current system is 10 years old or older. This information will aid in helping you decide when it is time to replace your system.
For more information on HVAC energy efficiency ratings or other heating and air conditioning topics, check out our other blog posts.
To schedule a free replacement equipment quote, contact Comfort Climate Service at 251-610-2848. We provide quality service at competitive prices and service the Fairhope, Daphne, Spanish Fort, Foley and surrounding areas in Alabama.