HVAC Energy Efficiency Ratings: A Short Guide

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Updated on Oct 22, 2023
5 min read
HVAC Energy Efficiency Ratings: A Short Guide

How to ensure the HVAC unit you are choosing is energy-efficient and just right for your Northern California household needs? You need to look at an index called the energy rating. Understanding how the HVAC energy efficiency rating works is crucial in selecting the most appropriate system for your home. Here are a few critical HVAC rating systems to consider.

SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio)

When it comes to ACs, SEER indicates the number of BTUs produced by the system to process one watt of electricity. The higher the SEER number an AC shows, the better it will be at cooling. You can find the SEER rating mentioned on a bright yellow sticker on the side of your AC equipment.

In general, a SEER value greater than 14 indicates a standard AC. It’s also the official requirement in California. With that said, modern air conditioners tend to have even greater values such as 18 and 26.

The correlation between BTUs produced and AC efficiency can be confusing. After all, how can an AC that produces more joules per watt can be better than one that produces fewer joules?

It’s noteworthy that the SEER rating indicates that the AC with a higher rating will deliver the same amount of cooling for relatively less consumption of electricity (wattage). Based on this, higher SEER ratings mean you get more value for money, as it saves the electrical operation costs of the appliance. To put it in context, a 16 SEER system can save up to $2,000 in annual operating expenditure.

Difference between SEER and EER

You may notice that sometimes the HVAC system displays an EER rating instead of a SEER value. The Energy Efficiency Ratio appears similar to SEER, but it has a major difference. The core basis of EER is to calculate the heat emission relative to a standard external temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit. On the other hand, the SEER rating is calculated against a broad range of 65 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

Therefore, if you live in a place where the temperature frequently exceeds 95 degrees, the EER rating is more relevant to you. In relation to this, if your place has an average temperature range below 85 degrees, the SEER rating will be more helpful to you.

AFUE (Average Fuel Utilization Efficiency)

You encounter the AFUE rating, especially when buying an oil or gas heating system for your home. AFUE is a standard percentile system indicating the level of energy efficiency of the heating apparatus. For instance, the 70% AFUE mark on the equipment shows that it effectively converts 60% of the fuel into heat. You should aim at buying appliances with a minimum AFUE rating of 78%. The best heating systems have AFUE ratings up to 98.5%.

HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor)

The HSPF is yet another important rating to consider before buying heat pumps. A higher HSPF value means that the heat pump utilizes less energy to run. Heat pumps that have an HSPF value equal to or more than 8.2 are considered Energy Star appliances. The most efficient pumps have an HSPF rating of more than 13.

Get Help from Professionals for HVAC Purchase and Installation

Awareness of how the rating system works in HVAC units helps you become a more informed buyer. You should also consider seeking professional assistance while buying a system for your home. Professional AC service providers will take into account multiple factors such as the energy input to cooling/heating ratio to help you select the right HVAC unit. 

Join the Future of Home Comfort

Take the first step towards comfortable, energy-efficient, and stress-free living by scheduling a consultation with Sandium.