SEER ratings are used to measure an air conditioning unit’s efficiency, and the Department of Energy has some minimum requirements.
If you are considering purchasing a new air conditioning system for your home, it is important to have a basic understanding of SEER ratings and how they impact the efficiency and cost of an air conditioner.
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, and it is a calculation of how much cooling output an AC unit will provide in comparison to the amount of energy consumed.
The U.S. Department of Energy requires that all modern air conditioning units be assigned a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio rating.
How Are SEER Ratings Calculated?
An air conditioning unit’s SEER is calculated by measuring the total cooling output (calculated in British Thermal Units, or BTUs) that the unit provides during regular use during the year and dividing it by the amount of energy consumed in watt-hours during the same period.
Fortunately, there is no need to memorize complicated formulas or perform mathematical calculations in your head. The yellow EnergyGuide sticker will tell you an AC unit’s rating at a glance. The higher the rating, the more efficient the air conditioner .
According to Environmental Protection Agency regulations, all air conditioning units manufactured after Jan. 1, 2015, must have a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio of at least 14. To qualify for the Energy Star label, and air conditioning unit must use 8 percent less energy than non-Energy Star models. Many of today’s high-efficiency ducted air conditioning systems can have efficiency ratings in the mid-20s. Some geothermal and ductless systems have efficiency ratings in the 30s.
Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and Utility Costs
If your air conditioner is 10 to 15 years old, it may have a SEER rating as low as 10 to 13. Replacing your existing AC with a higher rated model can translate to significant savings on your utility bills.
Depending on the size of your AC unit, your usage pattern, and your local utility rates, upgrading from a unit with a 10 rating to one with a rating of 20 could cut your utility costs by half.
The U.S. Department of Energy website provides an online calculator that allows you to compare the operating costs of air conditioning systems with various efficiency ratings.
SEER and Upfront Costs
As might be expected, air conditioning units with higher SEER ratings come with a higher purchase price. While exact cost can vary between contractors as well as your location, you can expect to pay as much as 40 percent more for an AC with a SEER of 21 over a basic unit with a rating of only 14. Homeowners must find the right combination of price and efficiency that works for their needs and budget.
A licensed HVAC professional can help you understand your indoor comfort options and recommend an air conditioning system that will meet your expectations for both cost and efficiency. Regardless of the type of cooling system you have, you can follow recommendations from the U.S. Department of Energy to keep from suffering from sticker shock when you get your next utility bill.
If you are searching for a Houston-based company to help you keep your A/C unit running smoothly all year long, Richmond’s Air offers the services and prices to keep you, and your wallet, comfortable. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. We’re happy to explain SEER installation and calculate how much an energy efficient system can help you save.