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Air Conditioner, Furnace & Heat Pump Ratings
What Do Ratings Mean?
Understanding how heating and air systems are rated will help you make a more educated decision. Here's what our experts say:
Air Conditioners: SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and measures a unit's cooling efficiency. The greater the number, the greater the efficiency. Air conditioners installed just 10 years ago averaged 8 SEER to 10 SEER. By upgrading to a 23-SEER unit, for example, you could reduce cooling bills by 60 percent or more. The U.S. Department of Energy's established minimum SEER rating for cooling is 13.00.
Furnaces: AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. This percentage tells you how much energy is being converted to heat. The greater the number, the greater the efficiency. A furnace rated 95.1% AFUE, for example, uses 95.1% of its energy intake to heat your home. The minimum percentage established by the U.S. Department of Energy for furnaces is 78% AFUE.
Heat Pumps: HSPF stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor and measures the heating efficiency of a heat pump. The greater the number, the greater the heating efficiency. Heat pumps are rated by SEER for cooling efficiency (see Air Conditioners).
Third-party reviews of heating and air systems can be hard to find. That's because system performance is so affected by the installation that it can be hard to separate the equipment from the install. Many times when a homeowner knocks a heating and air brand, the problem is due to poor installation rather than poor equipment.