Learn what HVAC system ratings mean before buying a new system

HVAC system ratings make a world of difference when buying a new comfort unit, but there are some things homeowners don’t know about these important acronyms. Keep reading for some friendly advice from the Seider Heating, Plumbing & Electrical professionals to help you better understand your options before you invest in a brand-new system. And remember, we’re here to help if you have any questions along the way.

The Highest Rating Isn’t Always the Best Choice

When buying a new furnace or air conditioner, you have to take a number of factors into account—like brand, model, size, and cost—not just its rating. Yes, a high rating indicates an efficient system. But if it’s not correctly sized to your home, the rating won’t make a difference. A system that’s too small or large will run inefficiently and overwork itself trying to keep you comfortable. That means higher energy bills and shortened lifespans, without the comfort you want.

Instead of choosing the highest rating, work with a licensed technician who measures and evaluates your home, listens to your comfort needs, takes your budget into account, and then helps you select the right system.

Each Acronym Has Its Own Meaning

From heat pumps and air conditioners to boilers and furnaces, each of these systems has its own acronym representing efficiency, and here’s what they mean:

  • Heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF): HSPF measures the heating efficiency of your heat pump. More specifically, it measures overall output compared to electricity used.
  • Seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER): SEER ratings measure the efficiency of both air conditioners and heat pumps. The ratio measures how much fuel your system is converting into cooling power
  • British thermal unit (BTU): BTUs rate the efficiency of both air conditioners and boilers. They measure the amount of heat needed to raise (or lower) the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.
  • Average fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE): AFUE is typically used to represent furnace efficiency. It calculates what percentage of energy is converted to heat.
  • Minimum efficiency rating value (MERV): MERV ratings represent how effective your air filter is at capturing airborne pollutants. The higher the rating, the more pollutants it captures.

Minimum Requirements Rule Which Systems You Can Buy

The Department of Energy (DOE) regulates the manufacturing of all heating and cooling systems in the United States and sets the energy standards and guidelines that must be met. That means homeowners like you can only buy systems that meet Wisconsin’s energy standards. Here are the minimum requirements:

  • AFUE ratings must be at least 80 percent or higher
  • SEER ratings must be at least 14 or higher

Our technicians can help you find a system that meets these minimum requirements and maximizes efficiency to help you save on energy bills for years to come.

Have More Questions? We Have Expert Answers

Next time you’re shopping for a new comfort system and are curious about system ratings, ask our pros for help. We can tell you about the different Carrier® model options and explain which would be best at keeping your family comfortable and saving you money. Contact us or call us any time you want an expert opinion or have a question about your home comfort systems.