Understanding Your Air Conditioner

What do HVAC ratings mean?

When you’re searching for a new HVAC system, there are a lot of factors to think about. Is it the right size for your home? Is it energy efficient? How does the system work with your finances? Will the unit be quiet enough for your home? Will it be beneficial for your indoor air quality? That’s a lot to think about. On top of all the questions you have, some HVAC knowledge seems just out of reach. The acronyms and shorthand that industry professionals use can raise more questions for the average homeowner. Fortunately, the experts at Toptec Heating, Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical are breaking down the system ratings you need to know before making a purchase:

Annualized Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE): This efficiency rating is a ratio that compares how much of the fuel you use in your furnace to the amount turned into useable heat. You’ll find that the better systems have a higher percentage of heat used.

If your system has an AFUE rating of 85, that means the system makes 85 percent of the fuel used into useable heat. If you are looking for a highly efficient system, you’ll want one that has an AFUE of 90 or higher. Lennox offers residential furnaces with ratings up to 98.7—the highest in the industry.

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER): The SEER rating is used to measure both heat pumps and air conditioners. A lot like AFUE, this ratio looks at how much of the fuel used to power a home comfort system is converted to cooling output. The higher your unit’s SEER, the more efficiently it runs.

Minimum SEER ratings change between regions. Choosing a high efficiency model may be more expensive on the front end, but you’ll see greater energy savings throughout the years. Lennox makes air conditioners with SEER ratings up to 26—another industry leading rating.

Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF): Do you own a heat pump or plan to shop for one? This will be what you’ll want to take a look at as far as heating efficiency. A higher rating indicates a more efficient heat pump. If you want to find a solution that’s ENERGY STAR® efficient, you’ll need a rating above an 8.2—as well as a SEER rating above 12.

Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV): Air filters have holes that allow air and particles to circulate within your indoor space. MERV assesses the size of the holes. The higher the rating, the smaller the holes in the filter—and a decrease in the number of particles that get into your home. If you’re wanting a more efficient filter, find one with a MERV rating of 10 or higher.

Air filters are critical to the quality of air in your home. Make sure to find the rating that works with your home, with your system and change the filter regularly.

These ratings will be important as you search for a solution that meets your needs. If you’re ready to find the best solution, or you have more questions about system ratings, call the team at Toptec Heating, Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical. You can reach us at 847-362-0262 We’re here to answer your questions and get you on the path to home comfort.

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