Understanding Your Air Conditioner

What do HVAC ratings mean?

When it’s time for you to shop for a new home comfort system, you have to consider a lot of factors. Is it the right size for your home? Is it energy efficient? Will it work with your budget? Will the unit be quiet enough for your space? Will it be beneficial for your indoor air quality? You have a lot to think about when considering the best solution. On top of all the inquiries you have, some HVAC knowledge seems just out of reach. The acronyms and shorthand that industry professionals use can raise more questions for the average person. Lucky for you, the professionals at Northern Comfort Inc are breaking down the system ratings you need to know before making a purchase:

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. A better system will have a higher percentage of heat used.

If your system has an AFUE rating of 85, that means the system turns 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 carries residential furnaces with ratings up to 98.7—the highest in the industry.

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

Minimum SEER ratings differ between regions. High efficiency models are generally more expensive, but they provide more energy savings. Lennox offers air conditioners with SEER ratings up to 26—another industry leading rating.

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

Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV): Air filters have holes that let air and particles to move around the house. MERV measures the size of the holes. The higher the rating, the smaller the holes in the filter—and the fewer debris particles that make their way into your home. If you’re wanting a more efficient filter, find one with a MERV rating of 10 or higher.

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

Finding an HVAC system that fits with your home, your energy efficiency needs and your desired comfort starts with understanding ratings. If you’re ready to find the best solution, or you have more questions about system ratings, call the team at Northern Comfort Inc. You can reach us at 507-387-6596 We’re here to answer your questions and get you on the path to home comfort.

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