HVAC Efficiency – What Does it Mean?

HVAC Efficiency - What Does it Mean?It seems that every summer is warmer than the last one. That extra, prolonged heat means you’re turning AC on earlier in the year and for a longer duration each day – costing you more money. You know you need an efficient HVAC system, but what does this mean? And why are there so many rating systems?

When shopping for a new HVAC unit, it may be worthwhile to learn more about HVAC efficiency and what the various efficiency ratings mean.

What is an HVAC Efficiency Rating?

An efficiency rating measures how well your AC turns electrical energy into cold air. Energy consumption through heating and cooling represents a significant portion of energy utility costs for most households. A higher rating means lower operating costs.

Here are a few of the rating systems you should pay attention to

  • Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)

The EER is a measure of the cooling capacity of an air conditioning system to the amount of energy required to power it. Systems are tested at higher operating temperatures to evaluate their performance and take into account humidity removal.

EER is a great way to assess the efficiency of small systems like window units as it measures the actual operating efficiency of a unit on a day-to-day basis.

  • Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER)

A SEER measures usage over time rating (seasonal)  Where EER is a snapshot of a unit’s efficiency in a moment of time. If you live in a region that experiences strong seasonal changes the SEER  is the rating you should look at. Again, the higher the rating, the better. It’s also the best rating to consider when installing central air conditioning.

  • Energy Star

The Energy Star rating measures how efficient an HVAC model is compared to other systems of the same size. Products are rated between 1 and 6 stars, with a higher rating indicating higher efficiency.

  • Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF)

Just as SEER and EER determine the cooling efficiency of an HVAC system, HSPF measures heating efficiency. It’s the ratio of total heating needed to the amount of electricity utilized by the heat pump. You’ll want to choose a system with a higher HSPF value if you’re looking to reduce energy costs.

  • Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV)

Here’s a rating that measures how well an HVAC unit ventilates your home. The MERV rating is simply a measure of how efficiently a filter removes fine particles from the air going through it. That said, all air conditioners require periodic cleaning and filter replacement to function properly. Air conditioner maintenance is the best way to prolong the lifespan of your system and ensure it keeps working as designed throughout.

Wondering what type of filter you should be using? Contact your local heating and cooling contractor for expert advice.

How to Choose the Best HVAC System

HVAC efficiency is but one of the factors you must consider when buying an HVAC system. Other crucial factors include price, system capacity, thermostat compatibility, maintenance requirements and the installing company. Consult a reliable HVAC contractor to ensure the unit you choose is the best fit for your home.


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