When shopping for a new or replacement HVAC system, it pays to know the HVAC efficiency ratings you may encounter, their abbreviations, and what they mean.

Depending on the type of HVAC system you’re considering, you’re most likely going to see AFUE, SEER, and HSPF efficiency ratings on the Energy Guide label.

Furnaces: Furnace efficiency is indicated by the unit’s annual fuel utilization efficiency rating or AFUE. This number represents the percentage of energy in the fuel the system burns that’s converted to usable heat. In a natural gas furnace with an AFUE of 90, for example, 90 percent of the energy in the gas becomes heat, while the other 10 is lost through ventilation or leakage. AFUE ratings apply to both fuel-burning and electric furnaces. New fossil-fuel warm-air furnaces must carry a minimum AFUE 78 rating and require an AFUE of 90 percent or higher to be considered high efficiency.

Central air conditioners: Central air conditioner efficiency is rated by the seasonal energy efficiency ratio or SEER. SEER numbers are derived from laboratory testing. As of January 23, 2006, air conditioners installed in new homes must carry a SEER of at least 13. Only air conditioners with a SEER of 14 or above can be considered high-efficiency models. Air conditioner SEER ratings generally range from 13-23, with higher numbers indicating greater efficiency.

Heat pumps: Since heat pumps provide both heating and cooling, they are governed by two efficiency ratings: SEER, which applies to heat pumps the same way it applies to air conditioners, and HSPF, or heating seasonal performance factor. The HSPF rating indicates how efficiently a heat pump produces home heating. HSPF ratings range from the minimum required of 7.7 for units manufactured after 2005 to 9.35. A heat pump with an HSPF of 8.2 is a high-efficiency model.

Pipe Works Services serves the needs of plumbing, heating, and air conditioning customers in Chatham and the surrounding New Jersey communities. Contact us today for more information on HVAC efficiency ratings and what they mean to you. Our goal is to help educate our customers in Chatham, NJ, and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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