Understanding Efficiency Ratings for Heating and Cooling Systems

Understanding Efficiency Ratings for Heating and Cooling Systems

Why should you consider purchasing an energy efficient heating and cooling system? Money, that’s why. New units can save you upwards of 20% on your heating costs over HVAC systems as little as ten years old. It’s true that a higher-efficiency furnace or air conditioner can cost more initially. However, manufacturer or local utility rebates may be available. You can always check with a Rheem Pro Partner for pricing on a new energy efficient unit.

So what is an energy-efficient furnace or air conditioner? Let’s take a look at some of the terms used to rate HVAC systems.

Dictionary of Efficiency Rating Terms

Understanding the different rating methods can help you make a more informed purchasing decision when shopping for a new heating and cooling system.

SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio)

SEER measures the efficiency of your air conditioning equipment and the relation between input and output. When considering SEER measurements, higher numbers are better. Look for a unit that is 13 SEER or more.

EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio)

The EER is similar to the SEER. However, EER is the cooling rating used by most geothermal heat pump manufacturers. It also takes into account the seasonal changes which will result in an air conditioning unit having to work harder in hotter weather. Therefore an EER measurement is lower than a SEER measurement for the same unit.

AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency)

Manufacturers use the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency to rate the energy consumption of natural gas furnaces. Regulations require that all heaters have a minimum AFUE rating of 80% and like with SEER, the higher the number, the better.

COP (Coefficient of Performance)

COP indicates how much of the input energy transforms into heat by your heating system. This measurement is typically used to rate geothermal heat pumps and like other measurements, you want the higher numbers.

CFM (Cubic Feet Per Minute)

CFM stands for Cubic Feet Per Minute. It indicates the volume of air moving through fans and ducts. SEER ratings are based on an air volume of 400 CFM per ton of air conditioning. This rating is more important for air conditioning than it is for heating.

BTU (British Thermal Unit)

British Thermal Unit (BTU) denotes cooling or heating capacity. You can expect one ton of air-conditioning to equal 12,000 BTUs,

Ask for a Home Energy Audit

Please keep in mind that these ratings do not take into account the size and condition of your ductwork.  For heating and cooling efficiency, you should call a professional HVAC company to do a home energy audit. They can help you select the right unit for your home and, if needed, upgrade your existing delivery system.

If you would like more information on high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, contact someone who can help. Rheem Pro Partners are HVAC experts who have served in Colorado and Wyoming since 1992.