First off, the current national standard (as of 2018) for heat pump ratings is:
- 14 SEER
- 8.2 HSPF
So, is that what we recommend? Well, for SEER we often suggest going higher (see below). For HSPF, we don’t recommend going any higher since we live in an area where heating isn’t high priority.
For example, we suggest getting a heat pump with a:
- SEER rating anywhere from 15–18
- HSPF rating of 8.2
We’ll explain that answer below. But first, let’s take a look at what “SEER” and “HSPF” really mean.
What is SEER and HSPF?
SEER and HSPF are both ratings that every heat pump is given by the manufacturer. Because a heat pump provides both cooling and heating, each unit receives a separate rating for its cooling efficiency and its heating efficiency.
More specifically, a heat pump’s:
- SEER rating tells you how efficiently the unit cools a home. Heat pump SEER ratings range anywhere from 14 to 24+.
- HSPF rating tells you how efficiently the unit heats a home. Heat pump HSPF ratings range anywhere from 8.2 to 13+.
Both ratings are determined by dividing the total amount of heating/cooling the unit provided in a typical season (measured in BTUs) by the amount of electricity it consumed that same season.
The higher the SEER and HSPF rating, the more efficient the unit is. That said, you might be wondering, “Should I get a higher SEER and HSPF rating than the national minimum (14 and 8.2) so that I can save more on energy consumption?”
Our answer? Don’t bother getting an HSPF any higher than 8.2. The energy savings you’d get from a super efficient heater would be minimal because we live in Phoenix—an area dominated by the cooling season.
That said, you could go slightly higher in SEER and you’d see a significantly higher spike in energy savings (remember, SEER ratings go as high as 24+).
But a fair warning: Don’t go too high in SEER.
Higher SEER/HSPF ratings mean higher-priced units
We already know that higher SEER and HSPF ratings mean lower monthly energy costs. But here’s the downside: higher SEER/HSPF ratings also mean higher upfront costs.
So before you rush out to buy a high-SEER heat pump, make sure that your long-term savings (via monthly energy bill savings) would outweigh the higher installation cost of the unit.
Our professional recommendation is to choose a heat pump with a SEER rating anywhere from 15 to 18. Anything higher and you risk a low (or negative) return on investment, especially if you have:
- A poorly insulated home
- Leaky ductwork
- An incorrectly sized heat pump (too big or too small for your home)
For more help on choosing heat pump SEER ratings, check out these articles:
Need a Phoenix HVAC contractor to determine the best rating for your heat pump?
We can help. We offer FREE heat pump estimates that include an in-home consultation and SEER and HSPF recommendations.