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What Do SEER, AFUE, and HSPF Ratings Mean to Me?

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What Do SEER, AFUE, and HSPF Ratings Mean to Me?

Advice For Homeowners, Air Quality, Safety

When it comes to heating and cooling your home, understanding SEER, AFUE, and HSPF ratings is essential. These ratings help homeowners like you make wise decisions that can lead to both financial savings and optimal comfort.

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Posted by Brad | November 13, 2023 | Reading Time: 4 minutes, 49 seconds

When it comes to heating and cooling your home, understanding SEER, AFUE, and HSPF ratings is essential. These ratings help homeowners like you make wise decisions that can lead to both financial savings and optimal comfort.

We’ve helped countless Ontario homeowners by installing new heat pumps, furnaces, and AC units—so we know all about these ratings and what they mean. Join our team as we explain below.

AC unit with high SEER rating outside Ontario home

SEER Ratings: A Measure for Cooling Efficiency

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. This rating gauges how efficiently an air conditioning system operates. A higher SEER rating translates to greater energy efficiency, which reduces utility bills and lessens your environmental impact.

The current minimum SEER rating for air conditioners sold in Canada is 14. However, many new high-efficiency models have SEER ratings of 16-21 or greater.

Costs & Benefits

While systems with high SEER ratings might have a higher upfront cost, the long-term savings in energy costs make them a prudent investment.

Let’s assume that your air conditioner has a lifespan of around 15 years—and that an air conditioner with a 21 SEER rating will result in savings of approximately 35% compared to one with the minimum SEER 14 rating. If the SEER 14 unit costs $0.20 per hour to run, this means the SEER 21 unit might only cost $0.13 per hour.

Now, take it one step further: if you run the SEER 14 unit for 8 hours per day during Ontario’s 5 month cooling season, you’ll spend $240 in cooling costs vs $156 for the SEER 21 unit. Over the unit’s lifespan, this translates to $1260 in savings, which should be enough to cover the difference in price between the two units. You’ll also be reducing your greenhouse gas emissions and improving your home’s overall cooling performance.

Maximizing Energy Efficiency with SEER

  • Find Units with High SEER Ratings: Look on the energy guide label or consult the product manual.
  • Get Proper Installation: Have your new AC installed by our professionals at Cross Heating & Air Conditioning. We can make sure the unit is properly sized and installed without any errors to preserve its efficiency.
  • Schedule Regular Maintenance: Schedule routine AC maintenance to keep the system running at peak efficiency.
  • Consider Upgrading: If your existing system has a low SEER rating, consider upgrading to realize significant savings.
HVAC technician installing furnace with high AFUE rating in Ontario home

AFUE Ratings: A Gauge for Heating Efficiency

AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) indicates the efficiency with which a furnace or boiler converts fuel into heat. Higher AFUE means more warmth for the same fuel, translating to cost and energy savings.

Costs & Benefits

Like high-efficiency ACs, buying a furnace with a high AFUE rating might cost more upfront, but the long-term savings make it a wise decision.

Consider a furnace with a 95% AFUE rating versus an 80% AFUE rating. If the 80% AFUE unit costs $0.25 per hour to run, the 95% AFUE unit might cost $0.20 per hour.

Running the 80% AFUE unit for 10 hours per day during Ontario’s 7-month heating season will cost $525 in heating costs, compared to $420 for the 95% AFUE unit. Over the 15-year lifespan, the savings amount to $1,575, likely covering the price difference between the two units.

By investing in a high-efficiency furnace, you’ll not only save money—you’ll also reduce your environmental footprint and enjoy consistent, comfortable heat throughout your home.

Using AFUE Ratings to Your Advantage

  • Look for AFUE Ratings When Shopping: Check the product label or manual.
  • Factor in Energy Prices: With energy prices trending upwards, a higher AFUE rating offers more predictable savings.
  • Invest in Quality: High-rated equipment is typically more durable and requires less maintenance. Have your high-efficiency furnace installed by our experts.
  • Get Annual Maintenance: Having us inspect your new furnace once a year is the best way to keep it running smoothly so you can continue enjoying the cost savings it provides.
Heat pump with high HSPF rating outside of home in Ontario

HSPF Rating: Assessing Heat Pump Efficiency

HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) gauges the efficiency of heat pumps. Higher HSPF ratings mean the heat pump is more energy-efficient, resulting in lower operating costs. Note that HSPF is specific to heat pumps, unlike SEER (which is for cooling) and AFUE (for heating).

Costs & Benefits

We’ll show you one more example to illustrate the potential savings you can look forward to with a heat pump that has a high HSPF rating.

Let’s take a heat pump with an HSPF rating of 10 compared to one with an HSPF rating of 8. If the HSPF 8 unit costs $0.18 per hour to run, the HSPF 10 unit might only cost $0.14 per hour.

Running the HSPF 8 unit for 8 hours per day during Ontario’s 5-month heating season will lead to $216 in heating costs, versus $168 for the HSPF 10 unit. Over the typical 15-year lifespan of the heat pump, the savings accumulate to $720.

And just like with air conditioners and furnaces, investing in an efficient heat pump means more than just financial savings. This also translates into less energy consumption, decreased greenhouse gas emissions, and superior performance.

Making the Most of HSPF Ratings

  • Find the HSPF Ratings When Shopping: Look on the energy guide label or product manual.
  • Upgrade on Time: If you have an older heat pump, consider upgrading when efficiency decreases or repairs become frequent. Our team can install a heat pump that fits your home’s specific heating and cooling needs.

Making Informed Choices About Your Home Comfort

Understanding SEER, AFUE, and HSPF ratings enables you to make educated decisions about the heating and cooling equipment you buy. By carefully considering these ratings and collaborating with trusted professionals, you can enjoy a comfortable home environment while keeping your utility bills in check.

When you need to install or maintain an AC, furnace, or heat pump, don’t hesitate to get a quote from Cross Heating & Air Conditioning. Our team of experienced pros is here to assist you with all your heating and cooling needs!

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