Energy Star Heat PumpsEnergy Star Heat Pumps | People sometimes ask us what is the difference between a heat pump that is labeled with an Energy Star logo and one that is not labeled with an Energy Star logo. What is the benefit to me for purchasing a heat pump with an Energy Star logo on it? We do keep up with many different HVAC manufacturers and what they offer for equipment they sell (things change so much it is sometimes difficult to keep up). However, we thought we would clarify what Energy Star is and what it means to you when you purchase a heat pump with an Energy Star label. Is it really the best and most efficient heat pump you can purchase? We only show air source heat pumps since they are, by far, the most common types of heat pumps used.

Energy Star Heat Pumps (Air Source)

Energy Star is a US government program managed by the Department of Energy with help from the Environmental Protection Agency. Essentially they manage the program. They use the Energy Star logo to give manufacturers a benefit of producing and selling products that are more energy efficient. If you see the energy star logo on any appliance or product it means that manufacturer met certain guidelines and criteria to be able to use that logo. It links marketing efforts to energy efficiency for manufacturers.

For air source heat pumps having an Energy Star logo means the manufacturer met specific criteria and standards to be able to label their heat pump with the Energy Star logo. That criteria is the following:

Energy Star Heat Pumps - Air Source | Includes Central Air Cir Conditioners

Equipment (Central Air Source Heat Pumps and Air Conditioners) *does not include ground source geothermal heat pumpsSpecification for Equipment to Use the Energy Star logo
Air-Source Heat Pumps≥ 8.5 HSPF/ ≥15 SEER/ ≥12.5 EER* for split systems
≥ 8.2 HSPF ≥15 SEER/ ≥12 EER* for single package equipment including gas/electric package units.
Central Air Conditioners≥15 SEER/ ≥12.5 EER* for split systems
≥15 SEER/ ≥12 EER* for single package equipment including gas/electric package units.

Definitions for the Above Table (provided by Energy Star*):

Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) is the total space heating required in region IV during the space heating season, expressed in Btu, divided by the total electrical energy consumed by the heat pump system during the same season, expressed in watt-hours.

EER is the ratio of the average rate of space cooling delivered to the average rate of electrical energy consumed by the air conditioner or heat pump. This ratio is expressed in Btu per watt.h (Btu/W.h).

SEER is the total heat removed from the conditioned space during the annual cooling season, expressed in Btu, divided by the total electrical energy consumed by the air conditioner or heat pump during the same season, expressed in watt-hours.

Air-Source Heat Pump (ASHP) – air-source unitary heat pump model is a product other than a packaged terminal heat pump, which consists of one or more assemblies, powered by single phase electric current, rated below 65,000 Btu per hour, utilizing an indoor conditioning coil, compressor, and refrigerant-to-outdoor air heat exchanger to provide air heating, and may also provide air cooling, dehumidifying, humidifying circulating, and air cleaning.

For more information on efficiency definitions you may want to visit our efficiency definition posts.

Independent Testing | Energy Star Heat Pumps

While Energy Star sets the efficiency guidelines for using the energy star logo on an air source heat pump the manufacturers are responsible for testing the equipment using a certified third party testing agency. For this, many HVAC manufacturers turn to AHRI to test their equipment. The testing procedures are very strict and of course the manufacturer pays for the test in addition to providing the equipment for testing. Testing specifications and standards for testing are typically derived from professional organizations and used by AHRI to conduct the specific test for the air source heat pump. Testing is very involved and requires the manufacturer to pass specific test to pass for Energy Star labeling. Some professional Organizations where the tests are derived include:

  • ASHRAE - American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers
  • ANSI – The American National Standards Institute

Those are not the only organizations that contribute to testing procedures. Other groups can include ASME and other professional and engineering groups that specialize in policy and procedures for the industry. The manufacturer is also required to pay an annual fee to AHRI for both their equipment certification and for using the Energy Star logo on their equipment.

Conclusion | Energy Star Heat Pumps

As you can see HVAC manufacturers are required to meet specific criteria for labeling their equipment with the Energy Star logo and for the efficiency labels they use in marketing their equipment. It is a very involved process and involves testing their equipment using tests derived from professional organizations. This is all done to help you, the consumer, get honest and fair information on efficiency levels of the equipment you purchase.

Energy Star Heat Pumps

HVAC Heating and Cooling

Energy Star Heat Pumps

To learn more about heating systems and HVAC use this resource.

If you are purchasing new HVAC equipment don't forget to check out our HVAC Consumers Buyers Guide Category for lots of help.

See the About the Author page for information about the author of this article.

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