Choosing a Heat Pump — What HSPF and SEER Mean to the Process
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Choosing a Heat Pump — What HSPF and SEER Mean to the Process


When it comes to choosing an energy-efficient heating and cooling solution for your Portland-area home, a heat pump might be your best option. The more you know about heat-pump efficiency ratings, the better decision you can make on what heat pump will work best for your needs.

A heat pump does two jobs in one by both heating and cooling your home. Because of that, it has two energy efficiency ratings to which you should pay attention while choosing a heat pump. The SEER rating, or seasonal energy efficiency ratio, measures cooling efficiency. The HSPF rating, or heating seasonal performance factor, measures heating efficiency. While both ratings are important, SEER should be higher in warmer climates, and HSPF should be higher in cooler climates for maximum efficiency.

SEER is determined by first measuring the amount of cooling that is actually provided during the hot season. This amount is measured in BTUs, or British thermal units. It is divided by the total amount of energy that the heat pump uses during the summer, as measured in watt hours. Beginning in 2006, the standard set for SEER ratings is a minimum of 12, double the old standard of 6. However, heat pumps with the highest cooling efficiency will have a SEER rating between 14 to 18.

An HSPF rating is similar to SEER, but is used to measure a heat pump’s heating efficiency. The HSPF rating is determined by measuring how much total heat is output during a heating season. Like SEER, this amount is measured in BTUs and is divided by the amount of energy that the heat pump actually uses during the winter. In 2006, the standard HSPF rating was set at a minimum of 7.7. A HSPF rating between 8 and 10 indicates that the heat pump has the highest efficiency currently available.

In order to make efficiency ratings easier to understand, the Energy Star label was created. A heat pump that has earned an Energy Star label is one that meets high standards for energy efficiency, and likely is your best option when choosing a heat pump.

For more expert advice on choosing a heat pump or any other HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) matters in the Portland area, contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve proudly served residential and commercial customers since 1976.

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