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What is SEER and HSPF? Why They Matter

Published on: August 23, 2012

When you are looking to have a new heat pump or AC installation done, one of your biggest considerations should be the energy efficiency of the equipment. If the equipment in your HVAC system is not efficient, you are going to end up having problems keeping your home cool and dealing with large power bills. The best way to ensure that your new HVAC system is energy efficient is to look at the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) ratings of heating and cooling equipment.

The SEER rating of AC installation equipment is a measurement of how energy efficient HVAC system equipment is at cooling. It is determined by taking the amount of cooling that is done over a period of time and dividing it by the amount of energy needed to do so. The higher the SEER rating for a piece of equipment, the more energy efficient it is. New AC installations are required to have a SEER rating of 13 or higher, but there are units available with ratings as high as 27.

HSPF ratings are also a measure of energy efficiency, but HSPF refers to the the heating efficiency of HVAC system equipment. As with SEER, the HSPF rating of a heat pump or heater is determined by measuring the amount of heating done over a set amount of time and dividing it by the amount of power used by the equipment. Higher ratings mean more energy efficiency, and ratings of ratings of eight or higher are considered to be energy efficient. Heat pumps are actually able to achieve more than 100 percent efficiency since they transfer rather than create heat.

In spite of their higher costs, AC installation equipment that is energy efficient is the is the most cost effective choice for your HVAC system. Due to the steadily rising cost of electricity, reducing your energy use can have a significant impact on your budget. Since it is common for people to use the same equipment for years or even decades, it is important to look at the long term costs associated with the equipment you choose. Additionally, heat pumps and AC installation equipment that is considered energy efficient is often eligible for energy efficiency tax credits, further reducing the costs associated with purchasing them. Therefore, be sure to look at both SEER and HSPF ratings before purchasing new HVAC system equipment for your home.