As an HVAC contractor, the 2 numbers I would be most concerned about when doing research are (1) SEER and (2) HSPF.

When it's time to upgrade and replace your heating and cooling system, many people are interested in what the SEER of the unit is, since there is a lot of talk about high SEER heating and cooling equipment. SEER means Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. SEER only pertains to its efficiency in air conditioning.

However, something else you should be concerned with is HSPF, which means Heating Seasonal Performance Factor. This number indicates it's efficiency in the heating cycle of the heat pump. Since we use air conditioner and heat pump almost equally in central VA, this is a number we should be concerned about.

The higher the number, the more dollars you'll save because the system runs more efficiently - coils, compressor, fan motor have additional things to make them more efficient. All of it varies based on the manufacturer.

For example, there are some 15 SEER units that only have an HSPF of 7.5, whereas there are also some 14 SEER units that have HSPF of 9.5, which would be the better deal. So you can't only pay attention to the SEER rating.

Also some manufactuerers boast about having variable speed fan motors, which are nice and quiet. But they may not be as efficient as a less expensive standard ECM motor. So what is important to you, a quiet unit or more efficiency? It's a decision based on what you are looking for from your system.

The EER is the overall Energy Efficiency Rating - it appears to correlate with the average of the SEER and HSPF, or general rating.

When discussing possible options with you, I take into consideration what is most important to you: cost, efficiency, reliability, or a combination. Every homeowner is unique in what is most important for their home. So don't feel like you have to choose a system just because someone else has it or recommends it. Choose what is best for you. All of our estimates include a complete breakdown including:

  • SEER options (efficiency)
  • Make, model and complete description of system capabilities
  • Pricing breakdown (based on your preferences and requirements)
  • Energy Star quality standards met and exceeded (learn more)


Source: your friendly HVAC contractor, Jaunsee Terrell