From AFUE to SEER: HVAC Terms Worth Knowing


Higher efficiency and other standards in the HVAC industry have given birth to newer and more complicated terms. Knowing how to translate these terms into plain English can help you make smart decisions about new equipment. Here are three of the most important terms and some in-depth information about just what they mean:

AFUE rating is an important term regarding boilers, furnaces and other equipment that burns gas, oil or kerosene. It stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. Simply put, a boiler that has a high AFUE of 90 percent effectively uses almost all of the fuel to generate heat. Only 10 percent goes out the vent or flue in the form of waste. If you have an old boiler, it could be rated at only a 65 to 70 percent AFUE. Obviously, the higher the rating, the more efficient and less costly the boiler is to operate. A larger percentage of the fuel is used to generate heat and less ends up as waste.

Another HVAC term worth knowing is SEER.  It is short for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. SEER applies to heat pumps and air conditioners. Currently, those ratings range from 13 to 23. An air conditioner rated at 18 creates more cool air from a unit of electricity than one rated at a 16. Again, the higher the number the more efficient. A higher rated unit creates more heat or cool air using less electricity to produce it.

An HVAC term that applies to those who work in the industry is NATE or, North American Technical Excellence. This is a voluntary program that allows HVAC technicians to earn certification by taking in-depth testing to demonstrate their skills and knowledge in heating and air conditioning. The NATE certification creates customer confidence in the abilities of those who install or repair their equipment.

Rodenhiser carries the best in energy efficient products. We also staff with NATE Certified specialists. If you have questions about any HVAC term or rating, call us; we’re always glad to help.


Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Solutions Guide.

Rodenhiser Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning serves the Route 495/128 area of Massachusetts. To get started, check out our website or see our current promotions.

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