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 system be quiet enough for your house? Will it be beneficial for your indoor air quality? You have a lot to think about when considering the best solution. On top of all the inquiries you have, some HVAC knowledge seems just out of reach. The acronyms and shorthand that industry professionals may include can create questions for the average homeowner. Fortunately, the professionals at Jack's Heating, Cooling, Stoves & Fireplaces are breaking down the system ratings to provide more education as you head into the purchasing process:

Annualized Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE): This efficiency rating is a ratio that links how much of the fuel you use in your furnace to the amount turned into useable heat. A better system will have a higher percentage of heat used.

If your system has an AFUE rating of 85, that means the system turns 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): This rating is used in both air conditioners and heat pumps. Much like AFUE, this ratio measures how much of the fuel used to power an HVAC system is converted to cooling output. A more efficient system will have a higher SEER rating.

Minimum SEER ratings change between regions. A high efficiency model that provides more energy savings in the long run will generally be a little more expensive. Lennox carries air conditioners with SEER ratings up to 26—another industry leading rating.

Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF): Have a heat pump? This will be what you’ll want to take a look at as far as heating efficiency. You’ll want to look for heat pumps with a higher rating if efficiency is your goal. If you want a model that’s ENERGY STAR® efficient, that requires 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 flow around the house. MERV assesses the size of the holes. The higher the rating, the smaller the holes in the filter—and the fewer debris particles that enter into your home. If you’re wanting a more efficient filter, find one with a MERV rating of 10 or higher.

Air filters are key 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 on a consistent basis.

Keeping these ratings in mind as you begin looking for a new system will help ensure you find one that meets your needs and will work with your home. If you’re ready to find the best solution, or you have more questions about system ratings, call the team at Jack's Heating, Cooling, Stoves & Fireplaces. You can reach us at 308-646-3827 We’re here to answer your questions and get you on the path to home comfort.

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