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can I use the plural form of 'efficiency' when talking about multiple devices? For example, I have the following question and I need your help:

"Reducing the supply temperature of the heating system increases the efficiency/ies of heat pumps"

I'd appreciate every comment and I would be very thankful for your help.

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    I'm toying with the idea that it might be better to use consistent number-form ('Reducing the supply temperature of the heating system increases the efficiency of a heat pump') but feel that 'Reducing the supply temperature of the heating system increases the efficiency of heat pumps' sounds best. Even if 'efficiency' is well-defined here (as with say mechanical efficiency, eta = Power output ÷ Power input). Commented Apr 20, 2020 at 14:04

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In using a plural there is the possibility of interpretation of each heat pump having several efficiencies (for example, as determined in various operating conditions); in my opinion it is preferable to use a singular; this is confirmed by actual usage (ref.); the plural, if used at all, appears to be rare.

  • […] have studied the efficiency of mutual fund companies and pension fund companies
  • […] explores the efficiency of public spending on health, education, and social protection in the Russian Federation on the general government level
  • […] help on improving the efficiency of individual building and property portfolios.
  • […] IMPROVING THE EFFICIENCY OF ENGINES FOR LARGE NONFIGHTER
  • […] Methods for Monitoring and Diagnosing the Efficiency of Catalytic Converters.
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  • Thanks for the answer LPH.
    – PeterBe
    Commented Apr 20, 2020 at 14:21
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what i have observed is that there are many words in english that both native and non native speakers consider strictly countable or strictly uncountable. 'Au contraire' there are many uncountable words that can have both singular and plural forms. though the meaning of the words may change.

example: pain(uncountable) : pains(plural form) but the meaning of pain(suffering and distress) is different from pains(effort) Similarly, while efficiency talks about competence or productivity

efficiencies talk about faculties or various faculties or various abilities.

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can I use the plural form of 'efficiency' when talking about multiple devices?

Certainly, I'd say, though perhaps not in the context of your example, where I prefer your less-favoured option: "Reducing the supply temperature of the heating system increases the efficiency of a heat pump". The cases match, and since this statement seems always to be true, I don't see the need to suggest multiple efficiencies.

("Reducing the supply temperature of the heating system increases the efficiency of heat pumps" seems to have mismatched cases, even though I know you could have multiple heat pumps per heating system.)

LPH wrote:

In using a plural there is the possibility of interpretation of each heat pump having several efficiencies (for example, as determined in various operating conditions)

This I believe is the main reason why "efficiencies", "powers", "throughputs" and so on are useful in engineering writing.

The examples LPH gives ("…studied the efficiency of mutual fund companies") work fine, but I can imagine a situation where "the efficiency" would wrongly imply that the figure is constant across different situations.

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