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What is the ideal heating or cooling system for your home? In order to determine this, you can look at the industry-standard efficiency ratings to find the ideal heating and cooling units. This will not only help you use energy more efficiently in your home but will also save you money on your heating and cooling costs. However, different types of heating and cooling units use different rating systems, so it is necessary to understand what each system measures and how to tell energy efficiency from each unit of measurement.

The SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating actually has nothing to do with the seasons. Rather, this rating measures the efficiency of the cooling process in air conditioners and heat pumps. When you are looking for the ideal heating pump or air conditioner, it is best to find one with a higher SEER rating. United States regulation agencies require that these units have a rating of at least 13. However, there are units that have ratings in the 20s, which means they work even more efficiently and can save you more money on your energy costs.

AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) ratings do not measure the efficiency of heat pumps and air conditioners but rather of furnaces fueled with gas and oil. It is also measured in percentages so that you know how much fuel is actually used to heat the home and how much is actually wasted. For instance, if your home has an AFUE rating of 75%, it means that you are only using 75% of the oil or gas to heat the home and the other 25% is wasted.

HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) ratings also measure heat pumps. However, this system measures the heat efficiency rather than the cooling efficiency. It is also not measured with plain number units but is actually dependent upon the unit’s BTUs. In fact, it is sometimes called an averaged factor. In order to calculate the HSPF, you have to divide the total annual heating requirements such as the back-up heating and defrost energy inputs by the total electric power used. The latest manufactured heat pumps are required by United States regulation agencies to have and HSPF of at least 7.7.

Of course, you will want to find energy units with the highest possible ratings whether you are looking at SEER, AFUE or HSPF. For instance, SEER ratings of 23, AFUE ratings near 100% and HSPF ratings of 10 are some of the most energy efficient units you can find for your home. The more efficiently the unit runs, the more you save on your energy costs and the less you waste energy, so you are doing less harm to the environment while keeping warm or cool.