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When it comes to cooling and heating your home, energy efficiency is a huge consideration. This is why rating systems are available for air conditioners, heat pumps and furnaces. Knowing how and why a particular piece of HVAC equipment receives its efficiency rating may encourage you to choose a better performing system, which will ultimately drive your energy savings up, and offer low lifetime costs over the system’s lifespan.

Here’s what you need to know about the various ratings:

  • Air conditioners – A/C systems are rated via seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). The government has set minimum efficiency standards at SEER 13, but it’s possible to purchase an air conditioner with a SEER rating up to the mid-20s. High-efficiency A/Cs and heat pumps generally start at SEER 16. For homeowners in South Florida, investing in a high-efficiency SEER-rated system pays off over the long run.
  • Heat pumps – Because air-source heat pumps provide both heating and cooling, you’ll want to look at the system’s SEER number and its heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF) rating. These HVAC efficiency ratings show homeowners how much electricity the heat pump consumes over the heating and cooling seasons, and can help provide an estimation of how much it will cost to operate. Minimum standards for HSPF are set at 7.7, but you can buy systems that reach 9.35 HSPF.
  • Ductless mini splits – You can choose a ductless system that functions only as an air conditioner, which will have a SEER rating, or one that uses a heat pump, which will have both a SEER and HSPF rating. The same minimum ratings that apply to A/Cs and standard heat pumps apply to mini-splits.
  • Furnace – Going with a conventional furnace for your home? Look at the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) number. Furnaces at 78 percent AFUE meet minimum standards, but furnaces can reach 98 percent AFUE. In South Florida, where you won’t use a furnace very much, if at all, a high AFUE isn’t as valuable as in areas that have cold winters.

Higher-efficiency systems consume less energy to operate and boost savings. In Martin, Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Indian River counties, contact NisAir Air Conditioning & Heating for more information about HVAC efficiency ratings.