How is Heating and Cooling Equipment Rated?


There are several other equipment ratings systems, but for the purpose of this limited booklet, we will focus on SEER ratings and AFUE. Air conditioning equipment is rated with a SEER rating. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The higher the SEER rating, the lower the energy consumption of the equipment. A good analogy to use to understand SEER ratings is the Miles Per Gallon in your car. It varies depending upon how much you drive in stop-and-go traffic in a city, versus highway miles. Similarly, SEER ratings vary depending upon the heat load in your home, and environmental conditions outside. Here in the mountains, we know that our weather can be pretty finicky which has an impact on the energy consumption of your heating and cooling equipment. That said, SEER ratings provide us a yard stick to see what the equipment’s potential is. The federally mandated minimum SEER rating that can be sold in our region is 14 SEER for any heat pump. The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) measures a gas furnace’s efficiency in converting fuel to energy. A furnace that has an 80 percent AFUE rating can turn 80 percent of the energy it consumes into heat. The other 20 percent is lost during the heating process. A higher AFUE rating means greater energy efficiency. The minimum standard AFUE for new furnaces is 78 percent. A mid- efficiency furnace usually has an AFUE rating between 80 and 85 percent, while a high-efficiency unit has a rating between 90 and 97 percent. Another important thing that impacts both your SEER and your AFUE is regular maintenance.