Guide to HVAC System Ratings
HVAC System Ratings for Heating
The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating is set by the U.S. Department of Energy, and it is expressed in percentages. The higher the AFUE rating, the more efficient the heating system, and the less energy required to heat your home or hot water. For example, a new high-efficiency furnace with a 94 percent AFUE provides 94 cents worth of heat from every energy dollar. If your furnace is only 80 percent efficient, 20 percent of the heat that should be going into your home is getting lost as flue gas (exhaust).
HVAC System Ratings for Air Conditioners
For air conditioners, the HVAC system efficiency rating is expressed as SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). The SEER rating of a unit is the cooling output during a typical cooling-season divided by the total electric energy input during the same period. The higher the unit’s SEER rating the more energy efficient it is. Today, it is rare to see HVAC systems rated below SEER 9 in the United States because the law now requires that residential systems manufactured after 2005 have a minimum SEER rating of 13. ENERGY STAR qualified Central Air Conditioners must have a SEER of at least 14, however window units are exempt from this law, so their SEERs are still around 10.
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