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Understanding Efficiency

No matter the size of their property, all home and business owners understand that choosing energy-efficient appliances and HVAC solutions can help them cut down on electricity bills while protecting the planet. If you're shopping for a new air conditioner or heating unit for your Chicagoland home or business, you've likely encountered many different rating abbreviations and systems. Perhaps you've asked yourself what does AFUE stand for? or what does the SEER rating mean? Answering these common questions will help you choose the best HVAC system available. Remember that a professional HVAC dealer can also provide you with in-depth information about how these ratings will affect your utility bills and your in-home comfort.

Understanding Energy Efficiency Ratings

If you've spent time shopping for an air conditioner, heat pump or furnace recently, you've likely asked yourself questions such as what does SEER mean in air conditioning terms? and do energy efficiency ratings really matter? These rating systems can seem confusing to consumers, especially when they don't offer detailed information about the overall monetary savings that an efficient appliance offers. As you shop, remember that these ratings can often be used to project the savings that you stand to gain on a season-by-season basis. One of the easiest ways to gauge how a new appliance will affect energy usage is to look at the rating of your existing heater or air conditioner.

Why Should You Pay Attention to Ratings When Buying HVAC Equipment?

Although they can seem like a cryptic code, the systems used to rate HVAC appliances are easy to negotiate once you have a basic understanding of how they work. Choosing an appliance based in part on its efficiency rating will help you to realize energy savings and to lower your utility bills. When evaluating the energy efficiency of new HVAC components, be sure to ask all of the following:

  • How is the unit rated according to different energy efficiency systems?
  • Will you qualify for any rebates, incentives or tax credits if you buy the unit?
  • How does the unit's efficiency rating compare with the rating of your current unit?
  • Is the unit correctly sized for your home or business?

Correct sizing is absolutely essential when buying a new HVAC system. If you buy a highly efficient system that is too big for your house, you will likely notice that rooms are either too hot or too cold. If you buy an efficient system that is too small for your house, you'll need to run it around the clock and may not enjoy comfortable temperatures throughout your house. Buying an incorrectly sized unit can also lead to higher utility bills. A professional HVAC technician can help you choose the unit that is the right size for your building.

Understanding Energy Efficiency Rating Systems

Many consumers wonder why there are so many different systems to rate energy efficiency. You might be asking yourself if it's possible to rely on the ENERGY STAR system and not other ratings. While ENERGY STAR ratings do provide valuable information to consumers, it's important to use other types of ratings that can provide more in-depth information. SEER, AFUE and HSPF ratings all provide highly specific information about certain classes of HVAC products.

What does SEER Stand for in Air Conditioning?

The SEER system is used to rate air conditioners and heat pumps. The acronym stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio. These ratings are calculated by dividing the total cooling output of a unit during the warm season with the total energy input during that same season. This measures how efficiently a unit uses energy in order to produce cool air for your home.

How Does SEER Rating Work?

SEER ratings are expressed as a numerical value. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the unit. For example, an A/C unit with a SEER rating of 23 operates more efficiently than a unit with a SEER rating of 18. All new A/C and heat pump units produced for the U.S. consumer market must have a SEER rating of at least 13.

What Does AFUE Mean?

AFUE ratings, or annual fuel utilization efficiency ratings, are used to measure the efficiency of fuel-burning furnaces. AFUE is expressed in terms of percentages and describes how much fuel is used to heat your home versus how much fuel is wasted. The higher the AFUE number, the more efficient the furnace. For instance, a furnace with an AFUE of 75 percent is wasting only 25 percent of its available fuel while a furnace with an AFUE of 50 percent is wasting 50 percent of its available fuel.

What Does HSPF Stand For?

The heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF) rating is used to measure the efficiency of heating output by heat pumps. These ratings are calculated using the same basic formula that is used to calculate SEER ratings. Appliances are rated on a 7.7 to 13 point scale. The higher the rating, the more efficient the heat pump works during cooler months.

Working with An HVAC Contractor

At Comfort24-7, we understand that SEER, HSPF and AFUE ratings can seem confusing. We are proud to assist residential and commercial customers throughout Chicagoland, northwest Indiana and southwest Michigan with all of their heating and cooling needs. If you need assistance understanding HVAC ratings or would like to explore your system options, please call us today.