Furnaces are rated by the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratio, which is the percent of heat produced for every dollar of fuel consumed. AFUE works a lot like the miles-per-gallon rating on your car—the higher the rating, the lower your fuel costs.
The measure for the efficiency of air conditioners and heat pumps is the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), which compares cooling output to electrical consumption over a range of temperatures. The higher the air conditioner ratings or SEER, the less the unit will cost to operate.
*Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network, U.S. Department of Energy
**Air conditioner ratings calculations are based on every $100 spent to cool a home using a 3-ton, 10-SEER unit. The criteria base for furnaces is a 60% AFUE unit, with a 50,000-Btuh heating load. Fuel rates and heating hours are factored into the calculation upon selection of a state or region. If a state is not selected, the calculator defaults to the US national average for fuel and electricity consumption. Actual costs and savings will vary depending on weather conditions, usage, location and local utility rates. This information is intended as an example for comparison purposes only.
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