When choosing an HVAC system, efficiency is a crucial thing to consider. More efficiency adds up to better performance, reliable comfort, and increased savings. Understanding HVAC efficiency ratings will help you decide which systems will provide the best performance and savings for your home. In this article, we’ll look at the efficiency ratings you need to know, and why they matter.

What Are HVAC Efficiency Ratings?

HVAC efficiency ratings are standardized metrics that tell us how well a system uses energy. More energy-efficiency generally means more long-term savings on your electric bill. These ratings help us compare different models and make educated choices. The most common HVAC efficiency ratings to look for are SEER, EER, HSPF, and AFUE.

SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio)

SEER ratio is calculated by dividing the total cooling output during a typical cooling season by the total electric energy input during the same period. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the unit.

  • Why it matters: Higher SEER ratings mean better energy efficiency, and can significantly lower your energy bills during the summer months. Modern units typically have SEER ratings ranging from 14 to 21. 

EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio)

EER is similar to SEER but measures the efficiency of a unit running consistently at a specific outdoor temperature (usually 95°F). Same as SEER, it’s the ratio of the cooling capacity to the power input. EER is particularly useful for comparing the efficienty of units in hot climates.

  • Why it matters: EER provides a snapshot of how a system performs under peak conditions, like in areas with extreme heat. Higher EER ratings mean better performance and lower energy costs.

HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor)

HSPF measures the efficiency of heat pumps. It’s calculated by dividing the total heating output during a typical heating season by the total electricity consumed. Like SEER, a higher HSPF rating indicates a more efficient system.

  • Why it matters: A higher HSPF rating can lead to more energy savings during the winter months. Modern heat pumps have HSPF ratings ranging from 8 to 13. 

AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency)

AFUE measures the efficiency of gas and oil-fired furnaces. A higher rating means more fuel has been converted into heat versus lost through exhaust. For example, an AFUE rating of 90% means 90% of the fuel is used for heating, while the remaining 10% is lost.

  • Why it matters: Furnaces with higher AFUE ratings are more efficient, leading to lower fuel costs. High-efficiency furnaces typically have AFUE ratings of 90% and above, while older, less efficient models may have ratings as low as 60%.

Making the Right Choice

When choosing an HVAC system, it’s important to consider your local climate, energy costs, and specific heating and cooling needs. Investing in a high-efficiency system can mean big savings on utility bills and a smaller environmental impact.

  • Climate considerations: If you live in an area with hot summers, prioritize systems with high SEER and EER ratings. For colder climates, look for high HSPF and AFUE ratings.
  • Energy costs: Higher efficiency systems typically have a higher upfront cost but can save you money in the long run through lower energy bills.
  • Environmental impact: Using less energy reduces your carbon footprint and helps contribute to a more sustainable future.


HVAC efficiency ratings are key when deciding on the best HVAC system for your home. Comparing SEER, EER, HSPF, and AFUE ratings will help you get a system with the most performance and cost savings, while reducing environmental impact. 

Our professional technicians are always ready to help you explore the best options for your personalized needs. Get in touch today and we’ll help you determine the best choice for your home and family.