HVAC Efficiency Ratings Explained


Your air conditioner keeps your home cool and comfortable in the summer months. During the hot summer days of North Idaho, an efficient air conditioner can be a blessing on both our home’s comfort and our utility bills.

When shopping for a new HVAC unit, a lot of numbers get thrown around. For example, you want to consider the square footage of the space you’re cooling and what your budget is. But one of the most important numbers you’ll encounter is the efficiency rating.

Are you shopping for a new air conditioner? Keep reading below to learn about the different efficiency ratings and what they mean.

What is an HVAC Efficiency Rating?

An efficiency rating measures how well the air conditioner turns electrical energy into cold air. A higher efficiency rating means that your air conditioner will require less electrical energy to cool your home quickly. It also means less energy is required to maintain a cool temperature. Since less energy is required, a very efficient air conditioner can save you some money on your electrical bill.

What are the rating systems?

There are three main efficiency rating systems for air conditioners. These are the EER (Energy Efficiency Rating), SEER (Seasonal Efficiency Rating), and HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor). These ratings are useful for determining the efficiency of your air conditioning unit, depending on the type and size of your unit.

EER – Energy Efficiency Rating:

This ratio assesses cooling output, measured in BTUs in relation to watt-hours of electricity. HVAC technicians calculate this by recording the temperature in the home, outside the home, 50% relative humidity, and running the air conditioner for approximately an hour. Then, they divide the BTU’s of cool air put out by the kWh used.

The EER is helpful for assessing the efficiency of smaller units, like window air conditioners. Most room and portable air conditioners have an average EER of 8.5. Buying an even more efficient air conditioner will further lower your overall costs.

SEER – Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating:

Instead of only being tested once, the SEER is a rating based on a whole season. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating takes both the hot days and colder days into account. This can be a more comprehensive and accurate depiction of how well the air conditioning will cool your home. Most people rely on SEER when choosing a central HVAC system for their home. Generally, a SEER score over 13 is good. Consult an HVAC specialist to find the best SEER score for your home.

HSPF – Heating Seasonal Performance Factor:

This rating refers to heat pumps. Similarly to SEER, the HSPF measures the efficiency across an entire season, and measures how many BTU’s the heat pump will put out for every kWh used. If you are using a heat pump to heat and cool your home, this rating is also important to take into consideration.

How does HSPF work, you may ask. For HSPF, you can consider that the HSPF is the approximate amount of BTU’s put out per every kWh exerted. For example, 8.5 HSPF means that the AC will put out 8.5 BTU’s per kWh. However, there are heat pumps that can have an HSPF of 10 or higher.

Rating Requirements

Over the years, the United States federal government assigned minimum efficiency ratings for air conditioners and other appliances as an effort to conserve energy. As technology advances improve the average efficiency of air conditioners across the industry, the minimum SEER rises to match. Currently, the minimum SEER is 14 in the northern states.

Heating Seasonal Performance Factor also sees such regulations. In 2021, the minimum HSPF is 7.7. However, to qualify for the Energy Star program and be considered high-efficiency, the HSPF must be 8.5.

Consult J.A. Bertsch

J.A. Bertsch Heating & Cooling offers residential air conditioning services throughout Kootenai County. Our licensed HVAC technicians cover all of North Idaho and our neighboring cities and can help you find the most efficient HVAC system for your home. Our systems are rated highest for performance and covered with our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, ensuring peace of mind for your comfort investment. Call us at 1-800-Furnace or 208-635-5480 to schedule an appointment.

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