Hansberger Refrigeration Blog: Your AC Repair Resource

Which HVAC Ratings Tell You the Most About Your Unit?

To predict how a new furnace or air conditioner will perform when it comes to energy efficiency, HVAC ratings provide useful information to help you compare different makes and models. For HVAC components that are already installed, other helpful indicators let you know how well the system’s doing. Here are some ways to evaluate choices between new equipment, as well as help estimate the condition of installed air conditioners and furnaces.

HVAC Ratings

The energy efficiency of air conditioners and furnaces is represented by specific HVAC ratings that are recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy.

  • SEER. Short for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, the SEER rating represents the energy efficiency of central air conditioners. The current federal minimum SEER is 13. The highest-efficiency AC units have a SEER rating above 20. A higher SEER rating generally means a higher purchase price. However, these units use less energy, so they may result in lower operating costs.
  • AFUE. Gas-furnace efficiency is rated by AFUE, short for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. Higher AFUE ratings indicate a more efficient furnace. The current federal minimum AFUE is 78%. The AFUE ratings of medium-efficiency furnaces range from 80% to 85%. High-efficiency units refer to furnaces with an AFUE above 90%.

Performance Indicators

  • Frequent repairs. If you’re calling for professional service more and more often, replacing the aging, failing unit with a new, more reliable model may be the better choice, as opposed to spending additional money on repairs.
  • Lagging efficiency. If you’re paying increasingly higher monthly utility bills to maintain the same comfort level in your home, wear and tear may be affecting the AC or furnace. In such cases, overall declining energy efficiency is often not a repairable issue. Replacement with a new unit is required to restore optimum efficiency and lower costs.
  • Refrigerant type. R-22 refrigerant, which is common in older AC units, has been banned by the Environmental Protection Agency. The approved replacement is R-410A. Any R-22 air conditioner that needs service that includes replenishing refrigerant may not be repairable. It must be replaced with a new R-410A-compatible unit.

Ask the pros at Hansberger Refrigeration and Electric Company for more information about understanding HVAC ratings.