Energy Star, AFUE,SEER, What do the numbers mean?

Real Estate

It's almost winter and you may be wondering if you need to do anything with that furnace/heating system. You might also be wondering about those Energy Star ratings - what makes a good rating?

From the Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog: https://www.coldwellbanker.com/blog/the-ultimate-homeowners-guide-to-understanding-your-heating-and-cooling-system/

Written By Fran Donegan

Boilers, furnaces and air conditioners are rated by how energy efficient they are. Furnaces and boilers have an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating. It measures how efficient the device is in converting fuel into heat. An AFUE of 90 percent means that all but 10 percent of the fuel is converted to heat. There are minimums for newly manufactured equipment, but some furnaces can achieve AFUE ratings of over 95 percent. Boilers have slightly lower AFUE ratings.

All-electric furnaces can be 95 to 100 percent efficient, but the high cost of electricity—most electricity is generated by burning oil, coal or natural gas—makes this an uneconomical choice. Space heating using electricity is mainly confined to the Southeast, which has lower heating demands than the Northeast and Midwest. Houses that heat with electricity are good candidates for heat pumps.

Cooling equipment is measured by the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). Depending on where you live, SEERs of 13 or 14 are mandatory, but you can find equipment that is much more efficient.

Energy Star is an Environmental Protection Agency program that sets minimums for the energy use of a number of household appliances, including heating and cooling equipment. It is a voluntary program, and manufacturers who meet the requirements can display the Energy Star logo on their products. There are many HVAC products that exceed the Energy Star minimums, but it is a good place to start. You can find a listing of products at energystar.gov.