Understanding Your Air Conditioner

What do HVAC ratings mean?

When you’re searching for a new HVAC system, there are a lot of factors to think about. Is it the correct size for your home? Will it be energy efficient? Is the price point one you’re comfortable with? Will the unit be quiet enough for your space? How will it impact the air quality? It can be overwhelming. On top of all the factors you want to learn more about, some HVAC knowledge seems just out of reach. The acronyms and shorthand that industry professionals may include can be confusing for the average person. Luckily, the professionals at Tokay Heating and Air Conditioning are breaking down the system ratings to give you a better understanding as you begin shopping:

Annualized Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE): This efficiency rating is a ratio that associates how much of the fuel you use in your furnace to the amount turned into useable heat. You’ll find that the better systems have a higher percentage of heat used.

If your system has an AFUE rating of 85, that means the system converts 85 percent of the fuel used into useable heat. If you are looking for a highly efficient system, you’ll want one that has an AFUE of 90 or higher. Lennox has residential furnaces with ratings up to 98.7—the highest in the industry.

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER): The SEER rating is used to measure both heat pumps and air conditioners. Similar to AFUE, this ratio compares how much of the fuel used to power a home comfort system is converted to cooling output. A more efficient system will have a higher SEER rating.

Minimum SEER ratings differ between regions. A high efficiency model that provides more energy savings in the long run will generally be a little more expensive. Lennox makes air conditioners with SEER ratings up to 26—another industry leading rating.

Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF): Looking into heat pumps? This is the rating to keep in mind. A higher rating indicates a more efficient heat pump. If you want a model that’s ENERGY STAR® efficient, you’ll need a rating above an 8.2—as well as a SEER rating above 12.

Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV): Air filters have holes that permit air and particles to move within your indoor space. MERV measures the size of the holes. The higher the rating, the smaller the holes in the filter—and the fewer debris particles that get into your home. If you’re looking for a more efficient filter, find one with a MERV rating of 10 or higher.

Air filters are essential to the quality of air in your home. Make sure to find the rating that works with your home, with your system and change the filter frequently.

Keeping these ratings in mind as you begin looking for a new system will help ensure you find one that meets your needs and will work with your home. If you’re ready to find the answer for your home comfort, or you have more questions about system ratings, call the experts at Tokay Heating and Air Conditioning. You can reach us at 209-257-3156 We’ll work with you to find the best solution and get to the bottom of all your questions.

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