Buyer’s Guide to HVAC Acronyms

Understanding These Key HVAC Acronyms Will Help You Select Efficient New HVAC Equipment.

Buyers GuideWhen shopping for a new air conditioner, heat pump, furnace, or other equipment, you will no doubt encounter a veritable alphabet soup of acronyms describing various aspects of the equipment’s performance. You can familiarize yourself with the specifics of these acronyms below, but the most important thing to remember is that the higher the rating, the higher the efficiency and the lower your utility bills.

SEER: Air conditioners and heat pumps have their cooling efficiency rated in terms of the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. All new equipment sold in the US must have a rating of at least 13 SEER, but for maximum efficiency look for products with up to 20 SEER.

EER: While the SEER accounts for performance over a range of temperatures designed to mimic the conditions of a typical cooling season, the EER or Energy Efficiency Ratio is a purer measurement. It is calculated based on an outside temperature of 95 degrees, and shows you how efficient a new air conditioner would be on this kind of sweltering summer day. Since AC units are only required to carry SEER ratings, you might not always find EER on new equipment.

AFUE: The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency rating shows you how much of the fuel your gas or oil furnace is turning into heat. Naturally the higher the rating the better, as any fuel not turned into heat will just be wasted. Carrier has some of the most efficient gas furnaces on the market, including one that can reach 98.5 percent AFUE.

HSPF: This rating describes the efficiency of a heat pump when in heating mode. All new heat pumps are required to have a Heating Seasonal Performance Factor of at least 7.7, but at Carrier we can offer a heat pump rated 13 HSPF for significant savings over your average unit.

COP: The Coefficient of Performance is used to measure efficiency in geothermal heat pumps. It describes the relationship between the energy produced by the system and the energy consumed by it. As usual, a higher rating is better.

MERV: If you are exploring filtration options to help with your indoor air quality, you might encounter MERV or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value ratings. This is a measure of how well the filter captures particles. A filter with a MERV rating of 13 to 16 is considered a high-ranking MERV filter and can remove up to 75 percent of all airborne particles 0.3 microns or greater from the air.

Don’t Forget Supporting Equipment

When buying a new air conditioner or heater, remember that other parts of your HVAC system can affect its efficiency. Ask your HVAC contractor to check your system and make sure your ductwork and insulation is in good shape. Also, make sure your indoor and outdoor coil sizes match and your blower offers variable speed capability and you should be prepared to enjoy the maximum possible energy efficiency.