HVAC Efficiency Ratings

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When you begin your search for a new HVAC system, you might think that the process will be relatively simple. Things like the size and floor plan of your home will impact the system you buy; but it is not like buying a car, with all the options, fuel economy, and safety ratings to consider. Then you look at the first unit and are mystified by the series of acronyms that mean nothing to you and it is clear that you need to gather some base knowledge to make a well-informed choice.


Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) is the standard measure of furnace efficiency. Think of it as the equivalent of miles per gallon on your vehicle. The number is expressed as a percentage to tell you how much fuel is used to heat your home. The remaining energy is considered waste. The higher the AFUE, the more efficient the unit will operate and the less it will cost you to keep your house warm and cozy.


Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) is the rating system used for HVAC air filters. The MERV is a ranking system for the density of the filter. A higher density is good for increased filtration. But it also restricts airflow and can require more energy to operate your HVAC system. The rating system ranges from 3 to 20. However, most residential filters fall in the 3 to 8 range. The only common exception is if someone in your home suffers from allergies or has other air-borne sensitivities.


Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is the standard measurement for air conditioner efficiency. The larger the number, the more efficient the unit and that equates to lower cooling costs for you. The United States regulates all new AC units and requires them to have a SEER of 13, but the rating system does go up to 21 for the most efficient units.


Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) is the measurement of heat pump efficiency. The higher the number, the more energy-efficient the unit. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy set minimum standards for new heat pumps at 8.2 HSPF and 14 SEER. Older units are likely to score under an 8 HSPF. A replacement could represent significant savings on the operating cost of your current heat pump.


Developed by the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy, the ENERGY STAR label designates energy-efficient appliances and products. Each product line has a specific set of criteria that the item must meet to earn the ENERGY STAR rating.

As you start your search for a new HVAC system, there can be quite a learning curve. But you can always call 952-213-3955 to speak to the professionals at Blue Ox Heating and Air. Our team has decades of experience helping homeowners select the best heating and cooling system to meet their needs. And as always, all of our work is backed by a complete parts and labor warranty.