What HVAC Energy Efficiency Ratings Mean for Your Knoxville Home

March 24, 2015

When it comes to heating and cooling your home, everyone enjoys opening their monthly energy bill to realize that it’s less than they expected. After all, who doesn’t like saving money? As a homeowner, knowing can be a big part of the battle, and in this case, understanding the most common HVAC energy efficiency ratings can help you save money when the time comes to swap out your current system.

Of course, there are a wide range of efficiencies for each heating and cooling product line, but because you’re an educated homeowner, you can understand what you can pay for and what you’d like to use for your home. To help you with your learning, here are the most commonly used HVAC energy efficiency ratings and a broken down version of what they mean:

Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF)*

HSPF is the rating used to measure the energy efficiency of the heating portion of your heat pump over one heating season. A larger HSPF rating points out that the system is functioning at a more efficient level than a lower rating. In the U.S., new systems have ratings ranging from the federal minimum of 7.7 to 9.4 for the systems with peak efficiency.

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER)*

This might be the most well-known of the energy efficiency ratings, as it measures the efficiency of your system over the cooling season. As with most ratings, the greater the SEER rating, the greater the efficiency. Now, the federal minimum for new systems is 13 SEER, and as technology continues to grow, the top rating continues to go higher, offering you systems that can cool more efficiently and are better for the environment. You can also expect to see a dip in energy costs with a higher SEER rating.

Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE)**

For heating systems that use gas or oil, AFUE is the rating that you should be looking for. It references the amount of heat that your system gives you for every dollar you spend on fuel. So if you have a system that has a high AFUE rating, it is wasting less fuel during its conversion process, which means savings for you throughout the year. There haven’t been any systems produced that perform without wasting any fuel, but the Lennox SLP98V operates with a 98.7% AFUE rating.

ENERGY STAR® Certification

While it’s not a rating, ENERGY STAR® certification is another indicator that you’re getting an energy efficient system. In 1992, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established ENERGY STAR so that businesses and homeowners could save money and protect the environment by using energy efficient products. ENERGY STAR certification has its own number of requirements that products must meet through third-party testing in a lab setting. These requirements are determined by region, so you know your system is optimized for the conditions in Knoxville. Be sure to look for a blue label with the ENERGY STAR logo on its packaging to know for sure.

Of course there are more terms we could write about, but these are a few of the most common HVAC energy efficiency ratings that we get questions about at R & M Climate Control Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. If you have any questions about the right system or efficiency level for your home, feel free to give us a call at or schedule an appointment online with one of our professionals.

*https://www.energystar.gov/sites/default/files/specs//private/Central_ASHP_and_CAC_Program_Requirements%20v4_1.pdf

** https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_definitions&dts=ef,te

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