Understanding HVAC Efficiency Ratings: What They Mean & Why They Matter

Mar 21, 2023

When shopping for a new air conditioner or furnace, a lot of Manitobans have two questions on their mind: What’s going to keep them comfortable and what will save them money?

Today, we’re going to help you answer the second question. A more energy-efficient unit can save you money over time by lowering your monthly heating and cooling costs. Let’s dive into how you can measure the efficiency of a unit when you’re shopping around! 

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER)

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is a measurement that tells you how efficient your air conditioner is. SEER is determined by calculating how much cooling your system can produce over a typical cooling system, then dividing that number by the amount of energy the unit consumes over the same period of time.

This means that a higher SEER means a more energy-efficient unit. While most air conditioners will have a SEER of at least 14, you can find ratings of 20 or higher—these are extremely high-efficiency units that can save you money over time by lowering your energy bills.

Another related efficiency rating is the energy efficiency ratio (EER). EER is calculated by dividing the cooling capacity of the unit (in BTUs per hour) by its power consumption (in watts). Again, the higher the EER, the more efficient the unit is, and both SEER and EER will be displayed on the unit. 

Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE)

In much the same way as SEER helps you determine the efficiency of your air conditioner, annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) tells you how efficient a furnace or boiler is.

AFUE is calculated by determining the heating output of a unit over the course of a year and dividing that number by the energy consumed by that unit over the same period of time. The final number is expressed as a percentage—a hypothetical unit with a 100% AFUE would turn all of its energy into useful heating. 

In Canada, most furnaces have a minimum AFUE of around 80% (some are slightly less, and some are much higher depending on their features). A high-efficiency unit will have an AFUE of 90% or higher.

It’s easy to understand how AFUE can save you money—upgrading from an AFUE of 80% to one with 90% means 10% less of your energy is wasted. That can add up to a lot of savings over time! 

Energy Star

Energy Star is an efficiency standard managed by Natural Resources Canada in conjunction with the EPA in the US. This isn’t an efficiency rating, per se—rather, it’s a standard that tells you a given unit is particularly energy efficient.

In brief, if you see the Energy Star label on a product, it means that the product is energy efficient—and that includes air conditioners, furnaces, and the rare heat pump you’ll see here and there in Manitoba. 

Call Provincial Heating for Energy-Efficient HVAC!

We pride ourselves on offering energy-efficient heating and cooling solutions in Manitoba. For HVAC installation or HVAC repair in Winnipeg, call Provincial Heating & Cooling! 


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