About the SEER Rating

Heating and cooling account for about 56% of the energy use in a typical U.S. home, making it the largest energy expense for most homes. A wide variety of technologies are available for heating and cooling your home, and they achieve a wide range of efficiencies in converting their energy sources into useful heat or cool air for your home.

Only a few years ago, the HVAC industry responded to global needs to conserve energy by improving the efficiency performance of heating and cooling equipment. So, if you have a central air conditioning unit, furnace, or heat pump system with equipment manufactured before 1992 when the Department of Energy established the new efficiency standards, there's a good chance your heating and cooling energy bills are 20-40% higher than they need to be.

Central air conditioners and heat pump systems use the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) as the measurement of system efficiency. The higher the SEER, the greater the efficiency and the greater your energy savings! Gas furnaces use the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) as the measurement. The higher the AFUE, the greater the efficiency. Heat Pumps use the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) as an efficiency measurement. The higher the HSPF, the greater the efficiency.

For example, prior to 1992 an 8 SEER unit was considered highly efficient. Now, as of 2008, the Department of Energy's minimum efficiency rating is 13 SEER and the Energy Star minimum efficiency rating is 14 SEER although nowadays some units exceed 21 SEER.

When looking for ways to save energy in your home, be sure to think about not only improving your existing heating and cooling system, but also consider the energy efficiency of the supporting equipment and the possibility of either adding supplementary sources of heating or cooling or simply replacing your system altogether.

Ask you sales representative for energy fact sheets on different types, models, and designs to help you compare energy usage. For furnaces, look for high Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings. The national minimum is 78% AFUE, but there are ENERGY STAR® models on the market that exceed 90% AFUE.