Understanding HVAC System Efficiency Ratings

In the process of buying your new air conditioning or heating system, you might have noticed the different energy efficiency ratings. These ratings will help you better understand how efficient each new HVAC system is. These criteria include the SEER, EER, HSPF and AFUE ratings. Before purchasing a new HVAC unit, it’s important that you understand these ratings and what they mean for your home comfort. In this post, we’ll break down what each HVAC Energy rating means.

HVAC System Efficiency Ratings


SEER, which stands for seasonal energy efficiency rating, indicates the electrical input necessary to run your cooling equipment over a season compared with the amount of cooling it generates. High SEER ratings mean that you’ll get more production from your cooling equipment for the same amount of energy. This means that the higher the rating, the more efficient the system.

Note that SEER is tested based on a lower operating temperature of 82 degrees. Many air conditioning systems have improved their SEER ratings in recent years, so consider replacing an old air conditioning system with a more efficient and newer model.


The EER or energy efficiency ratio is another way to measure the operating efficiency of an air conditioning system. Unlike the SEER, it is calculated by testing the system at higher operating temperatures, typically 95 degrees or higher. In addition, this rating takes humidity removal into account.

The EER is useful because it indicates how well an air conditioner will perform under maximum cooling load. Consider both the SEER and EER ratings together to determine how your system will function both at maximum capacity and over time.


HSPF, or the heating seasonal performance factor, gauges the efficiency of your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system over a heating season. Like the SEER, it measures the system’s efficiency over the course of one entire season.

This rating is determined based on the ratio of heat generated by the system to the electricity consumed by the system. Highly efficient heat pumps have a maximum HSPF rating of 10. You can use this rating to get a good idea of how your heating system will perform over time in regard to efficiency.


AFUE, or annual fuel utilization, is the thermal efficiency rating of your heating system, which applies to furnaces, boilers and water heaters. It assesses the efficiency with which a certain amount of fuel transforms into heat. High AFUE ratings indicate that conversion losses are minimal and that more heat energy is produced by the system. Low fuel losses can lead to savings.

Need Help Choosing a New HVAC System?

J and M Air Conditioning and Heating has served Riverside County customers since 1867. We provide both residential and commercial customers with complete sales, service and high-quality heating and air conditioning systems from Carrier®. We employ the best, certified HVAC experts, who undergo continuous training with the latest technologies and methodologies.

Contact us at (951) 66304895 or fill out our contact form to learn more about HVAC energy efficiency ratings.

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