What HVAC Energy Efficiency Ratings Mean for Your Houston Home

March 24, 2015

When it comes to heating and cooling your home, everyone enjoys ripping open their monthly energy bill to realize that it’s less than they expected. After all, who doesn’t like saving money? As a homeowner, knowing can be half the battle, and in this case, understanding the most common HVAC energy efficiency ratings can help you save money when the time comes to swap out your current system.

Of course, there is a huge range of efficiencies for each heating and cooling product line, but because you’re an informed homeowner, you can understand what you can afford and what you’d like to use for your home. To help you with your understanding, here are the most commonly used HVAC energy efficiency ratings and an explanation of what they mean:

Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF)*

HSPF is the rating utilized to measure the energy efficiency of the heating portion of your heat pump over one heating season. A higher HSPF rating means that the system is operating at a more efficient level than a lower rating. In the U.S., new systems have ratings ranging from the federal minimum of 7.7 to 9.4 for the systems with peak efficiency.

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER)*

This could be the most well-known of the energy efficiency ratings, as it measures the efficiency of your system over the cooling season. As with most ratings, the larger the SEER rating, the greater the efficiency. Today, the federal minimum for new systems is 13 SEER, and as technology continues to grow, the top rating continues to go higher, leaving you with systems that can cool more efficiently and are more green. You can also expect to see lower energy costs with a higher SEER rating.

Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE)**

For heating systems that operate with gas or oil, AFUE is the rating that you should be on the lookout for. It references the amount of heat that your system provides for every dollar you spend on fuel. So if you have a system that has a high AFUE rating, it is wasting less fuel throughout its conversion process, which means savings for you year after year. There haven’t been any systems developed that perform without wasting any fuel, but the Lennox SLP98V operates with a 98.7% AFUE rating.

ENERGY STAR® Certification

While it’s not a rating, ENERGY STAR® certification is another indicator that you’re getting an energy efficient system. In 1992, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established ENERGY STAR so that businesses and homeowners could save money and protect the environment by using energy efficient products. ENERGY STAR certification has its own set of requirements that products must meet through third-party testing in a lab setting. These requirements are set by region, so you know your system is ideal for the conditions in Houston. Search for a blue label with the ENERGY STAR logo on its packaging to know for sure.

Of course there are more acronyms we could write about, but these are a few of the most common HVAC energy efficiency ratings that we get questions about at Church Services. If you have any questions about the right system or efficiency level for your home, feel free to give us a call at or schedule an appointment online with one of our pros.

*https://www.energystar.gov/sites/default/files/specs//private/Central_ASHP_and_CAC_Program_Requirements%20v4_1.pdf

** https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_definitions&dts=ef,te

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