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Energy Efficiency Acronyms 101: EER, SEER, HSPF, AFUE, and COP

Posted by: Cooper MechanicalTuesday, May 12, 2020

Energy efficiency ratings like EER, SEER, HSPF, AFUE, and COP and how they affect your heating and cooling bill

More consumers are paying attention to energy efficiency ratings. Energy efficient materials, appliances, and home systems like heating and cooling aren't just good for the planet. They can also lower monthly utility bills. However, use of acronyms and industry jargon can make it confusing for average consumers looking to compare HVAC systems on their own. In this blog post, we'll explain the most common energy efficiency ratings to help you understand what the numbers on the sticker tag means for you.

EER: Energy Efficiency Ratio

Your EER, or energy efficiency ratio, is this: the BTU per hour of cooling at 95°F divided by the watts used at 95°F (BTUs/hr at 95° ÷ W at 95°). The higher the number, the more efficient the cooling system. While SEER numbers will be prominently featured on HVAC systems, you may find EER values on AC window units and heat pumps, especially water-based and geothermal appliances.

SEER and HSPF: The Most Common Ratings on HVAC Systems

Even for those with limited knowledge, the SEER acronym means something. There are even billboards in Myrtle Beach for a national HVAC chain touting "SEER" ratings on units. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. SEER is the ratio between the cooling system output (BTUs) and the amount of electric energy a unit consumes in a given period. The lower the number, the more electric energy a cooling system consumes. Conversely, the higher the number, the less energy a cooling system consumes. Since cooling is our primary focus for the Myrtle Beach area, SEER is a good indicator for comparing the efficiency of HVAC systems.

HSPF is the Heating Season Performance Measure. According to Energy.gov, the HSPF is the “total space heating required during the heating season, expressed in BTUs, divided by the total electrical energy consumed by the heat pump system during the same season, expressed in watt-hours.” Since Myrtle Beach has mild winters (and sometimes they are downright warm), this rating is much less relevant to consumers in this region. If you are living in Michigan and half the year is spent heating your home, HSPF is something you'd want to look at when shopping.

AFUE and COP: Energy Efficiency Values for Heat Pumps

COP stands for Coefficient of Performance. Similar to EER, the COP value is the BTU of Heat at 47°F divided by BTU of electricity used at 47°. This value measures heat pump efficiency, so the higher the COP number, the more efficient the heat pump.

Another performance measurement for heat pumps is AFUE, or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. While most Myrtle Beach residents won't be too concerned with the AFUE rating, it's helpful to understand what it is and why it matters. Should South Carolina ever become a place where we turn on our heat for long parts of the year, AFUE would be helpful to know when looking to replace a furnace. AFUE measures the efficiency over an entire heating season. For example, if a furnace has an AFUE value of 85%, that means that for every BTU of fuel, the furnace will produce .85 BTU of heat. In other words, an 85% AFUE rating means that 15% of energy is lost on average over an entire year of heating.

Educated Consumers are Smart Consumers

There are plenty of companies that will try to dazzle you with industry-speak, acronyms, and efficiency numbers. Cooper Mechanical Services is not one of those companies. Our HVAC professionals explain HVAC ratings in terms that average homeowners and business owners can understand. We also realize that not ever energy efficiency rating is relevant in South Carolina. 

For honest and dependable heating, cooling, ventilation, and indoor air quality services, call Cooper.