SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is the cooling efficiency of your air conditioner. It tells you how efficiently your unit uses electricity. In general, the higher the SEER rating, the less electricity your unit will use to cool your home. The typical SEER rating of a/c units made before 1992 is about 6.0. In 1992, the minimum cooling efficiency for newly built homes was set at 10.0 SEER. High-efficiency units have a SEER of at least 13.0 now, and the maximum available is 21.
AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) is the standard measurement of efficiency for gas and oil-fired furnaces. Given in percentages, this number tells you how much of your fuel is used to heat your home and how much fuel is wasted. The higher the AFUE rating, the greater the efficiency. AFUE ratings range from the minimum industry requirement of 78% up to 95%. If you have an older furnace with an AFUE of approximately 60%, you could save up to 40% on your heating bills by replacing it with a new high efficiency furnace. The cost to replace your old, inefficient furnace is paid back through lower utility bills.
HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) is the efficiency measurement used to gauge the efficiency of the heating mode of heat pumps. The higher the number, the greater the efficiency and cost-savings. The current range for HSPF is from 6.8 to 9.5. You will probably see the higher cost of a high efficiency air conditioner or heat pump paid back through lower utility bills in a few short years.