hvac energy ratings greater comfort cincinnati

What Do HVAC Energy Ratings Mean?

It’s important to make smart choices when you’re looking to purchase a a new heating and cooling system for your home (or business).

You’ll see various different energy efficiency ratings when you’re browsing among units, and you shouldn’t bypass them. Because they help indicate how much the system will cost to buy and operate, they’re worth reviewing. You may want to consider higher-rated systems, as they will be more efficient in the long run (1).

Confused? We’ll Explain.

If you’re clueless about what these ratings mean, don’t fret, we’ve got you covered!

Let’s talk heat. What’s HSPF? This indicates the ‘Heating Seasonal Performance Factor’ for heat pumps, which is expressed through a ratio. HSPF simply compares the amount of heat produced to the electricity consumed. In simpler terms, it rates the unit’s efficiency over an entire season.

To put these terms into perspective, the minimum required HSPF for heat pumps manufactured after 2015 is 8, while the highest possible HSPF is 10 (1). The higher the rating, the more efficient the unit.

Gas furnace? You’ll want to know about AFUE. The ratings for gas furnaces differ slightly from heat pumps. The AFUE, or ‘Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency’ ratio measures the percentage of heat generated for every dollar of fuel used. This is similar to the miles-per-gallon standard on your car—the higher your AFUE, the less you’ll dish out for heating costs (1, 4).

Efficiency Ratings: The Basics

First, what does SEER mean? This rating stands for ‘Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio’ and is the most widely used efficiency measurement among air conditioners.  Similar to HSPF, it compares the amount of electrical input needed to run the A/C over an entire season to how much cooling the unit provides (1,2). To put it simply, a higher SEER rating means higher efficiency. A 16-SEER unit is typically a viable choice for those looking for higher efficiency without breaking the bank (3).

Next up: EER. EER means ‘Energy Efficiency Ratio.” Unlike SEER, which assigns ratings based upon a lower operating temperature of 82 degrees, EER measures performance based on higher temperatures, typically above 95 degrees. This rating tests the unit based on how well it can perform under maximum cooling capacity, and also considers humidity removal (2).

So, which one should you keep an eye out for when it comes to A/C shopping? Well, both! It’s important not to bypass one efficiency rating for the other. Just because a particular unit has a high SEER rating, doesn’t mean that it will have a high EER rating—and vice versa.

Since most people will need an air conditioner than performs well in both circumstances (warm days, and hot, humid days), it will be helpful to investigate both ratings (2).

We’ll Help You Make the Best HVAC Choice

If you had to try to take away one thing from this article, remember that your system’s performance is measured by a higher seasonal energy efficiency ratio (your SEER) and energy efficiency ratio (your EER). Higher ratings usually translate to lower operating costs, but they also are going to be more to purchase (1).

Making the switch to a new HVAC system is an important decision—and we want to make sure that you’re making the right one! Have a question about which system might be best for you? Give us a call!

If you are ready to take action and discuss your heating and cooling needs with a Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky expert, now is the time to call. Contact the experts at Greater Comfort today to ensure that your HVAC systems are in excellent shape this winter: 859-491-4915.


  1. https://www.angieslist.com/articles/what-do-hvac-energy-efficiency-ratings-mean.htm
  2. https://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/publications/pubdocs/HeatingCoolingGuide%20FINAL_9-4-09.pdf
  3. https://asm-air.com/airconditioning/what-is-a-good-seer-rating/
  4. https://www.lennox.com/buyers-guide/guide-to-hvac/energy-ratings

Read the Greater Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning blog for energy savings tips and HVAC industry updates.