What do HVAC ratings mean?

August 23, 2018

When you’re searching for a new HVAC system, there are a lot of factors to think about. Is it the right size for your home? Will it be energy efficient? How does the system work with your finances? Will the HVAC system be quiet enough for your space? How will it impact the air quality? It can be overwhelming. On top of all the questions you have, some HVAC knowledge seems just out of reach. The acronyms and shorthand that industry professionals use can be confusing for the average individual. Lucky for you, the professionals at Walter's-Eaton's Electric, Plumbing, Heating & AC are breaking down the system ratings to provide more education as you head into the purchasing process:

Annualized Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE): This efficiency rating is a ratio that compares how much of the fuel you use in your furnace to the amount turned into useable heat. You’ll find that the better systems have a higher percentage of heat used.

If your system has an AFUE rating of 85, that means the system converts 85 percent of the fuel used into useable heat. A system with an AFUE of 90 or higher is considered high efficiency. Lennox has residential furnaces with ratings up to 98.7—the highest in the industry.

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER): Both heat pumps and air conditioners use this rating. Similar to AFUE, this ratio looks at how much of the fuel used to power a home comfort system is converted to cooling output. A more efficient system will have a higher SEER rating.

Minimum SEER ratings vary between regions. Choosing a high efficiency model may be more expensive on the front end, but you’ll see greater energy savings throughout the years. Lennox makes air conditioners with SEER ratings up to 26—another industry leading rating.

Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF): Looking into heat pumps? This is the heating efficiency rating you need to know. You’ll want to look for heat pumps with a higher rating if efficiency is your goal. If you are in the market for a heat pump that’s ENERGY STAR® efficient, you’ll need a rating above an 8.2—as well as a SEER rating above 12.

Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV): Air filters have holes that let air and particles to move within your indoor space. MERV measures the size of the holes. The higher the rating, the smaller the holes in the filter—and a decrease in the number of particles that enter into your home. If you’re seeking a more efficient filter, find one with a MERV rating of 10 or higher.

Air filters are essential to indoor air quality. Make sure to find the rating that works with your home, with your system and change the filter on a consistent basis.

Keeping these ratings in mind as you begin looking for a new system will help ensure you find one that meets your needs and will work with your home. If you’re ready to find the best solution, or you have more questions about system ratings, call the pros at Walter's-Eaton's Electric, Plumbing, Heating & AC. You can reach us at 715-318-6728 We’re here to answer your questions and get you on the path to home comfort.