What do HVAC ratings mean?

Technology

When it’s time for you to shop for a new home comfort system, there are a lot of factors to think about. Is it the correct size for your home? Is it energy efficient? Will it work with your budget? Will the HVAC system be quiet enough for your home? How will it impact the air quality? It can be overwhelming. On top of all the factors you want to learn more about, some HVAC knowledge seems just out of reach. The acronyms and shorthand that industry professionals already know can raise more questions for the average homeowner. Luckily, the professionals at O'Brien Heating & Air Conditioning 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. A better system will have a higher percentage of heat used.

If your system has an AFUE rating of 85, that means the system makes 85 percent of the fuel used into useable heat. If you are looking for a highly efficient system, you’ll want one that has an AFUE of 90 or higher. Lennox carries 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 an HVAC system is converted to cooling output. A more efficient system will have a higher SEER rating.

Minimum SEER ratings change 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 offers air conditioners with SEER ratings up to 26—another industry leading rating.

Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF): Do you own a heat pump or plan to shop for one? This will be what you’ll want to take a look at as far as heating efficiency. You’ll want to look for heat pumps with a higher rating if efficiency is your goal. If you want a model 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 allow air and particles to move through your home. MERV measures the size of the holes. The higher the rating, the smaller the holes in the filter—and the fewer debris particles that get into your home. If you’re seeking a more efficient filter, find one with a MERV rating of 10 or higher.

Air filters are critical to keeping the air in your home clean and comfortable. Make sure to find the rating that works with your home, with your system and change the filter on a consistent basis.

Finding an HVAC system that fits with your home, your energy efficiency needs and your desired comfort starts with understanding ratings. If you’re ready to find the model that will work for you, or you have more questions about system ratings, call the experts at O'Brien Heating & Air Conditioning. You can reach us at 610-257-7035 We’re happy to answer any questions you have and show you options that can work for your home.

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