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Kilowatt Heating, Air Conditioning and Electrical Blog

What’s the Difference Between EER, SEER, and HSPF?


Homeowners are concerned with the efficiency of the appliances they purchase and install in their homes. Higher efficiency tends to mean lower costs to run the appliance, and it also helps to benefit the environment. The US Department of Energy provides a helpful guideline for energy efficiency with their ENERGY STAR program: appliances that receive the ENERGY STAR label have met the requirements for high energy efficiency and manufacturing standards.

There’s more to understand about the efficiency of an appliance than just whether it has the ENERGY STAR symbol on its case. When it comes to air conditioning and heat pump systems, there are several specific efficiency stats you’ll want to pay attention to when planning a new HVAC installation. The three ones we’ll address here are EER, SEER, and HSPF.


EER stands for Energy Efficiency Ratio, and it’s a basic measurement of how much electricity an air conditioner (or heat pump in cooling mode) consumes to provide cooling. The ratio of EER is the amount of cooling the unit provides (measured in BTUs, British Thermal Units, removed from the building) to the amount of electricity used (measured in watt-hours) under a specific set of conditions. EER gives a snapshot of the efficiency of the system.


SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. Where EER is a snapshot, SEER is more like a movie—a broader look at how the AC or heat pump performs when cooling. The ratio is the same: BTUs removed to watt-hours consumed. The difference is that SEER is measured under multiple conditions with varying temperatures and humidity levels. This simulates the unit working through a full summer season. The average of the test results is SEER, which is always higher than EER.

To give you a basic idea of common EER/SEER ratings for air conditioners, the current standards to earn the ENERGY STAR label are EER of 12.5 or higher and SEER of 15 or higher. Many special high-efficiency air conditioners can have SEER above 20. 


This measurement, Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, only applies to heat pumps. It’s the measure of how well a heat pump works when in heating mode. The measurement is similar to SEER: the ratio of BTUs brought into the house to the watt-hours of electricity consumed, done over multiple tests to simulate a full winter of work. 

The current ENERGY STAR standard for HSPF is 8.5 or higher.

Finding the Right Efficiency

A heat pump or AC with extremely high-efficiency ratings may seem like the best option for a new installation. However, higher efficiency also comes with a higher price tag, and in many situations, it’s better to go for lower efficiency that still meets ENERGY STAR requirements. Also, high efficiency isn’t a guarantee of savings: a badly installed system will waste money no matter its SEER or HSPF. We recommend you call us for professional heat pump and air conditioning service in San Fernando Valley, CA to help you locate the ideal type of new AC or heat pump to match your home and budget.

Kilowatt Heating, Air Conditioning and Electrical serves Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. Contact us today.

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