Do You Know What AFUE, SEER and HSPF Mean? | Rinaldis

Do You Know What AFUE, SEER and HSPF Mean? Learn Before You Invest in Your Next HVAC System

Apr 24, 2014

Your future HVAC system is a big investment that should be researched carefully before you buy it. When you talk to a consultant or salesman to find out what your options are, never go in without understanding a bit of the common language. Some terms, like AFUE, SEER, HSPF and related acronyms are frequently used, so make sure you learn about them beforehand.


Annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) is the standard measure of efficiency for a furnace or water heater. A higher number indicates that a unit is better at turning its fuel into heat than a unit with a lower AFUE. All current furnaces or heaters on the market will have an AFUE of at least 78 percent, as that is the minimum level set by the Department of Energy.


Seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) is another measure of efficiency, but in this case it’s a ratio. This value is specifically for air conditioners, and compares the amount of cold air produced to the amount of fuel consumed. As with AFUE, a higher number indicates a more efficient unit. The Department of Energy has also specified a minimum SEER value, which is currently 13.


You’ll want to know what heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF) is if you want to buy a heat pump. The HSPF of a heat pump tells you what percentage of fuel can be turned into the desired form, in this case warm air. There are many high efficiency pumps available, which can all achieve very high HSPF values.

When it comes to these values remember that they are averaged over a season or over the year. This means you may notice performance fluctuations on a short term basis once you install a new HVAC system, but don’t worry, as it will average out over time.

If AFUE, SEER, HSPF or any other HVAC related term is confusing you while you are shopping for your Orlando home’s next HVAC system, feel free to contact Rinaldi’s Air Conditioning.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Orlando, Florida and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about HVAC systems and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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