Are you comparing the efficiency ratings of new HVAC systems? Perhaps you want to check the rating on your existing HVAC equipment. Regardless, you can find the efficiency rating and expected annual operating costs by checking the yellow Energy Guide tag on the side of the unit. Here’s more information about the various ratings you might see and what they mean.
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, a way of measuring air conditioning efficiency. The SEER rating represents the cooling output of an air conditioner over an entire cooling season, divided by the total amount of energy consumed during that period. A higher SEER rating indicates better energy efficiency and lower energy bills.
Today, the minimum SEER rating for new air conditioners is 14 SEER in the northern U.S. and 15 SEER in the southern U.S. This is an increase from the past minimum requirement of 13 SEER in the north and 14 SEER in the south, which was in effect from 2015 to 2022. This modification demonstrates the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) continuous efforts to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
Lately, high-end air conditioners boast ratings of 26 SEER or higher, providing amazing energy savings. However, impressive SEER ratings usually come with a higher up-front cost. This means you should consider both the initial investment and the potential for long-term savings when choosing a new air conditioner.
While SEER ratings are more known to consumers, cooling systems have an additional efficiency metric you ought to know. It’s called EER, and it is short for Energy Efficiency Ratio. This conveys the performance of an air conditioner under specific operating conditions. The EER rating helps you understand whether the system will support the demand on the hottest summer days.
Currently, only the southwest region has a minimum EER rating of 12.2 EER for residential central air conditioners. Peak ratings top out at about 14 EER. In most cases SEER and EER typically correspond, with higher ratings signifying greater overall performance.
Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) ratings are measurements of the energy efficiency of air-source heat pumps once in heating mode. HSPF is a percentage of the total heat output in British Thermal Units (BTUs) during the heating season to the volume of electricity used in watt-hours. A higher HSPF rating indicates a more efficient heat pump.
The minimum HSPF rating for new heat pumps is 8.8 HSPF, an increase from the prior minimum of 8.2 HSPF. By requiring higher minimum HSPF ratings, the DOE hopes to encourage the use of more energy-efficient heating systems in homes and businesses throughout the U.S. You can always settle for the minimum, but you may want to get a high-end heat pump with a rating of 13 HSPF or higher for the best performance.
Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings are another measure of heating system efficiency, but they apply to furnaces and boilers. AFUE is a percentage of the annual heat output to the energy consumed during that period. The higher the AFUE rating, the more efficient the furnace or boiler.
In 2023, the minimum AFUE rating for new gas furnaces has been modified to 81. Previously, the south and southwest had a minimum of 80 AFUE, and the north required ratings of 90 AFUE or higher. While you aren’t required to install anything above the minimum, you’ll spend less on your utility bills by choosing a furnace rated 95 AFUE or higher.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the ENERGY STAR program in 1992 to help homeowners and businesses identify the most energy-efficient products available. HVAC equipment, appliances, water heaters, light fixtures, office equipment, electronics and building products that achieve or exceed superior efficiency standards can earn ENERGY STAR certification.
ENERGY STAR-rated products go above and beyond the minimum requirements to save energy and cut down on emissions without sacrificing performance or features. You can also look for the ENERGY STAR Most Efficient designation, which identifies the best performers in energy efficiency and innovation. The EPA is presently overhauling the qualification requirements in the wake of the new minimum HVAC efficiency standards.
For help determining which HVAC energy-efficiency rating is right for your budget, turn to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. We can assess your situation and aid you in making an informed choice. Rest assured that we offer a range of products from today’s most reliable brands, all of which meet or exceed the minimum efficiency requirements for 2023. We’re so confident you’ll be delighted with our services that we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee! To learn more or to schedule a free HVAC installation estimate, please contact a Service Experts office near you.
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