Understanding Energy Efficiency Ratings

Energy efficiency ratings are one of the most important considerations when replacing an air conditioner.  Buying efficient unit could save you as much as 20% or more each year in energy savings.  An ac unit with a higher energy efficiency rating almost always costs more, so you will have to decide if the extra cost is worth savings in energy costs.

Seer – Seasonal Energy efficiency Ratio. Is a measure of the energy efficiency of your air conditioning unit, and the estimated energy consumed over a cooling season. It’s simply a ratio of the amount of cooling provided by your ac unit, this is measured in BTU’s divided by the amount of energy used to create the cooling. This usage is an estimation of the cooling that might be needed over a typical cooling season.

When checking SEER ratings the higher rating the more energy efficient the air conditioner. Currently the most efficient ac units may reach a SEER rating of 26. The government minimum in the US is 13 and most units will fall closer to this number.

When purchasing a central air system you may need to understand a few energy ratings related to the heating components of the unit as well.

HSPF- Heating Seasonal Performance Factor. This is a slightly more complicated ratio that like the SEER rating estimates the efficiency of you home heating system over a theoretical heating season.

AFUE- Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. This rating measures how efficiently the furnace or boiler converts fuel into heat (BTU’s). A furnace with a rating of 85% AFUE produces 85 BTU’s for every 100 BTU’s of heating oil or natural gas used.

Energy Star Certified air conditioners have been tested by the United States EPA and must be at least 20 to 30% more energy efficient than standard ac units. The current national minimum SEER rating for air conditioners is 13 but energy star models are at least 14.5 or better.  The national minimum for AFUE is 78% but many energy Star models rate at 90% or better.

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