To maintain your HVAC system properly and lower your home’s utility bills in Mobile, Alabama, you should learn and know the most common energy efficiency terms. That way, you can communicate with your HVAC service technician easily and choose an efficient HVAC system for your home.


The MERV, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, is an efficiency rating for your HVAC system’s air filters. A filter with a higher score will improve your indoor air quality by catching more pollutants like dust, pollen, dirt and mold. However, it will also use more energy. Ask an experienced service technician which MERV rating is best for keeping your home’s air clean while conserving energy.

Air filters with MERV ratings from 1 to 4 are usually the least expensive. They can remove particles like pollen and dust mites that can damage your HVAC system’s efficiency.

Filters with ratings from 5 to 8 can also remove dust and mold spores. A MERV rating from 9 to 12 can catch pet dander and auto emissions. If you have allergies or other respiratory problems, use an air filter with a rating from 13 to 16 that can even catch bacteria and viruses.


The SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, is your air conditioner or heat pump’s cooling capacity during an average summer divided by the amount of electricity it uses. The cooling energy is measured in BTUs, or British Thermal Units, and the power is measured in watts per hour.

HVAC systems that have a higher SEER rating are more efficient. They’re also more expensive. But the investment is worth it, because you can save money on your utility bills.


One BTU is the amount of energy you need to raise or lower 1 pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit at sea level. The measurement is usually written as the number of BTUs per hour that your HVAC system uses to heat or cool your home’s air. If your unit uses too many BTUs, you’ll waste energy. Your system will also make more noise.

If your heater or AC doesn’t use enough BTUs, making your home comfortable might be difficult. Your system won’t be as efficient as a correctly sized unit, and the extra stress could shorten its life.

An experienced professional should perform a Manual J calculation to determine the right number of BTUs for your heater or AC. Many service technicians use software programs to consider factors, including the number of rooms in your home, the number of occupants and your home’s insulation.


The HSPF, or Heating and Seasonal Performance Factor, is the heating output of your heat pump during the fall and winter (measured in BTUs) divided by the electricity in watts-per-hour that it uses during that same time.

Heat pumps transfer heat like air conditioners, but they can cycle in both directions to heat or cool your home. That way, you won’t have to install or maintain a separate furnace.
Heat pumps are more expensive than air conditioners, but they’re also more efficient. Many are quieter than other systems, as well.


The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, or AFUE, measures your heater’s efficiency. It’s the percentage of heat delivered to your home from each unit of fuel. If your furnace is more than 20 years old, replacing it with a new system with a high AFUE can help you save energy and prevent inconvenient, expensive breakdowns.

Electric heaters are usually most efficient, but natural gas or propane is less costly in some areas. You can also save energy by using solar panels or adding more insulation.

Air Specialty is a Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer with more than 20 years of heating and cooling experience. We can help you install, maintain and repair a variety of HVAC equipment. Call us anytime at (251) 415-4559 for excellent service.

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