How to Understand HVAC Ratings

How to Understand HVAC RatingsThe HVAC ratings all HVAC equipment carry tell consumers a lot about how much energy they will use. It’s useful to understand them when you’re looking at a new system, or if you’d like to evaluate the performance of your current equipment.

SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio)

The SEER is the most important rating you need to understand for this climate. It refers to the energy efficiency of heat pumps and air conditioners. The current minimum stands at 14 for central systems..

Technically, each increase in the SEER means the system uses 10 percent less electricity. Opting for a system that has a SEER rating of 16 will theoretically cut energy consumption by 20 percent over a system with a 14 SEER rating. Because the cooling season is so long, opting for higher cooling efficiency when replacing your system will save you money.

EER (energy efficiency ratio)

These HVAC ratings apply to both portable and central cooling systems. The EER measures the cooling efficiency when outdoor temperatures are 95 degrees F. A system with a high EER will perform well during the hot summer months.

HSPF (heating season performance factor)

The HSPF refers to the heating efficiency of heat pumps. The minimum stands at 8.2. Typically a heat pump with a high SEER will also have a high HSPF.


If you heat with gas, look for the AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) rating for the furnace. AFUE describes how much gas the system uses versus wastes as combustion gases. The minimum AFUE for gas furnaces stands at 80, which means that they use 80 percent of the fuel they use for heat and waste 20 percent up the chimney.

Since the heating season in Florida is so short, choosing a system with the minimum AFUE makes financial sense.

The HVAC ratings help you learn what kind of efficiency HVAC equipment has. If you’d like more information about improving your system’s performance or selecting a new one, contact NisAir Air Conditioning and Heating, providing HVAC services for Palm Beach, Martin and Indian River County homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Martin, Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties in Florida about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about HVAC ratings and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 772-207-1658. 

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