AFUE, SEER, and HSPF are all used to measure the energy efficiency of an air conditioner, heat pump, or furnace.

The efficiency of an air conditioner is measured by its Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, also known as SEER. The higher the SEER number, the more efficient the air conditioner, which translates to lower energy costs. Since 2006, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has required that all air conditioners have a minimum SEER rating of at least 13. These units are 23 percent more energy efficient than the 10 SEER units that were the minimum standard up to 2006. Air conditioners are available with SEER ratings up to 20. Based on your average usage, investing in an air conditioner with a high SEER rating can drastically reduce your utility bills.

Since heat pumps are used for both heating and cooling, they receive a SEER rating as well as a Heating Seasonal Performance Factor rating, or HSPF, to measure heating efficiency. An HSPF can range from 7.5 to 9.0 with the higher ratings providing the most energy savings.

Furnaces are rated according to the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency rating, also known as AFUE. Most furnaces manufactured in 1990 or earlier have AFUE ratings of 65 percent or lower. That means that only 65 percent of the energy or fuel consumed by the furnace actually goes toward heating your home. Today’s furnaces are required to have a minimum AFUE of 80 to 82 percent depending on the type of furnace. Anything lower than 80 percent is considered low-efficiency, and you should consider replacing the furnace. Modern, high-efficiency furnaces are available with AFUE ratings of nearly 97 percent. While these models may be more expensive in up-front costs, you can recoup the investment in the form of lower utility bills.

If you are looking to upgrade to a high-efficiency air conditioner, heat pump, or furnace, our HVAC experts can help you understand your options so that you can find the best system for your home.