Heating efficiency is one of those things that often gets talked about in this sort of vague, nebulous sense. As though the efficiency of a climate control device were some sort of unknown quality that could only be grasped in theoretical terms. The fact of the matter, though, is that each heating system on the market is rated according to how well it utilizes its fuel and/or power source over the course of the year. If you want to get the best return on investment for your heating system, you’re going to want to make sure that you understand how to take advantage of the AFUE and HSPF ratings. We’ll help you do so.
AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. It is the standard measurement of annual fuel efficiency for combustion-based systems, including furnaces and boilers. A system is given an AFUE rating according to how well it makes use of the fuel it combusts. So, without getting too complicated, a furnace that has an AFUE rating of 90% will make good use of 90% of the fuel that it is supplied with. The rest of the fuel tend to be vented out of the home as exhaust. You’re not really going to find a combustion system that is 100% energy efficient, but what’s important is that you find one with as high an AFUE rating as possible. The higher the rating, the less money you’ll have to spend on actually operating the system throughout the year.
HSPF is a separate heating rating from AFUE, used specifically for air source heat pump systems. It stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor. Heat pumps don’t rely on burning fuel to produce heat. Instead, they evaporate and condense refrigerant to move heat form one place to another. Electricity is the only thing necessary for the heat pump to actually start up, so that’s what HSPF measures. The HSPF equation measures the amount of heat the system generates compared to watt-hours of electricity used. So, the more efficient the heat pump is, the less electricity it will use over the course of a season to heat the home. If you’re looking for a heat pump to heat your home, instead of a combustion system, you’re going to want to examine this rating closely.
So, how can you tell if the system you’re considering installing is worth it in terms of efficiency? Well, that depends. You can do a lot of reading yourself on industry ratings and the more favorable ratings between systems. However, that’s a lot of extra effort for you. If you want to make sure that you get the most out of your heating system in terms of efficiency, the quickest way to do it is to just consult a professional contractor. They’ll be able to tell you what rating range to look for, as well as the kind of system that would best fit your needs.