What are SEER, AFUE and HSPF Ratings?

What are SEER, AFUE and HSPF Ratings?

Are you ready to upgrade your old heating and cooling system? It is oftentimes very easy to become overwhelmed with all of the HVAC contractor jargon out there. What is a SEER? How high does AFUE go? What is HSPF? Many clients trying to compare model numbers and efficiency ratings can end up feeling like they are looking at the contents of a bowl of alphabet soup! It can be overwhelming for a homeowner to navigate alone. That is why we put together this post for you so that you can feel more confident in knowing what you are buying.

SEER, AFUE and HSPF are government ratings and measurements which gauge the capabilities and energy efficiency of different types of heating and cooling equipment. U.S. Law governs heating and cooling efficiency standards across the country. The Department of Energy is involved with regulations and energy efficiency. Every furnace, heat pump and air conditioner sold in the U.S. earns one of these efficiency ratings.

If you’re in the market to purchase an HVAC system, it would behoove you to become familiar with these ratings. It is these ratings that will affect your comfort and your bottom line.

What is a SEER rating?

SEER stands for “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio”. SEER is the measure of efficiency by which the cooling process of air conditioners and heat pumps is rated. The higher your SEER number, the greater the efficiency, which translates to greater energy savings.

SEER is defined as the total cooling output (in British Thermal Units or BTU) provided by the unit during its normal annual usage period divided by its total energy input (in watt-hours) during the same period. For cooling products sold on the market today, the government requires a minimum SEER rating of 13.0. If you have an older piece of cooling equipment, you may be operating with a SEER rating as low as 8.0. At 8.0 SEER you’re wasting a lot of energy and money. For every $100 you pay to cool your home this summer at 8.0 SEER, you can get the same amount of cooling AND save $42 if you were operating at 14.0 SEER? Our Trane XV20i operates at up to 21 SEER and is our most energy efficient air conditioner.

What is an AFUE rating?

AFUE stands for “Average Fuel Utilization Efficiency”. Your furnace’s AFUE is the standard measurement of efficiency for gas and oil-fired equipment. The higher your AFUE rating, the greater the efficiency. A furnace that operates with an 80% AFUE rating will use roughly 80% of the fuel burned to heat the home. The other 20% will exit the home through the flue pipe with noxious gasses. The most efficient furnaces in the industry have AFUE ratings of up to 97.3%. If you have an older furnace (with an AFUE of approximately 60%), you could save up to 40% on your heating bills by replacing it with a new high efficiency furnace! Your lower utility bills will be working for you to pay off your new furnace. Our Trane XC95m gas furnace operates at up to 97.3% AFUE and is an excellent choice for the ultimate in energy efficiency and comfort.

  • HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor)
    A heat pump’s heating efficiency is measure by HSPF. We calculate heat pump cooling efficiency by SEER. The higher the HSPF number, the greater the efficiency and cost-savings of the heat pump. You can think of HSPF as the “averaged factor” for an entire heating season. We can calulate HSPF by taking the total annual heating requirements, including all energy inputs (defrost and back-up heating energy included) divided by the total electric power used. The industry standard rating system compares BTUs of heat output to watts of electrical energy consumed. The minimum requirement for a new heat pump in Sioux Falls, SD and the surrounding areas is 8.0 HPSF. The lowest rated heat pump that we install is the Trane XR14, which carries an HSPF rating of 8.2. Our most efficient heat pump is the Trane XV20i which operates at 20 SEER and 10 HSPF.

Matching Your System for Optimum Efficiency

Are you ready to install a new heating or cooling system with a higher SEER, AFUE or HSPF? It all boils down to this. As soon as we turn on your new HVAC equipment you will start saving money. Our Comfort Specialists can recommend a perfect solution to provide maximum energy savings and comfort for your family.

Alan Gentry is the founder of Comfort Heroes Plumbing, Heating & Air. The Comfort Heroes, LLC serves homeowners in Sioux Falls, SD and the surrounding areas.