What do SEER / EER and HSPF mean, and why are they important?

When our sales techs write a proposal, they will usually tell you the SEER / EER and if it applies, the HSPF ratings of your equipment they proposed. SEER is Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. According to Wikipedia, “The SEER rating of a unit is the cooling output in Btu (British thermal units) during a typical cooling-season divided by the total electric energy input in watt-hours during the same period. The higher the unit’s SEER rating the more energy efficient it is.” The current minimum government SEER rating for new equipment is 13, and minimum Energy Star rating is 14 SEER, but current technology provides ratings at 20 SEER or higher.

While SEER is rated across an entire cooling season, EER is determined on the system’s energy efficiency at peak day operations. A minimum number of 11.5 for split systems and 11 for heat pumps is recommended.  A peak cooling day here inVirginiais 90 degrees outside.

Heat pumps also have a Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF), again, the higher the rating, the more efficient. A factor of 8.2 or higher is considered high efficiency.

The actual efficiency rating for a specific system will depend on the combination of the outdoor unit and the indoor coil. These ratings are available from your dealer and the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute’s Energy Guide. A variable-speed indoor blower unit will increase the efficiency rating of the system, as well.

Gas furnaces are rated for AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency). This defines the amount of heat used to warm your home from the burned fuel. A 90% furnace will use 90% of the available heat to heat your home. 10% of the heat is vented outdoors. Many older gas furnaces are only 60% efficient. The other 40% is vented outdoors. You can see that a new high-efficiency furnace will require much less fuel to heat your home.

If your system is 10 years old, it may be rated at 10 SEER or lower and it may be time to consider replacing it instead of repairing it if it breaks. Moving to the minimum 13 SEER equipment should show a difference in operating cost. High electricity rates, long cooling seasons and long-term use of the system can offset the higher initial cost of a more efficient system. Call us to find out if your utility bill can benefit from a more efficient comfort system?  (Source: Wikipedia and Trane.com)