Proudly Serving Dallas/Fort Worth & Surrounding Areas

The Homeowner’s Guide to SEER Ratings

SEER ratings

Consumers have a lot to consider when making purchasing decisions about air conditioners and other major appliances. One important factor to consider is energy efficiency. Invest in an air conditioner that provides you with maximum comfort without wasting energy. Your air conditioner’s energy efficiency is indicated by its SEER rating. Understanding the SEER ratings for air conditioners is a very important part of your search for the system that is right for your home and budget.

What is SEER?

SEER, or seasonal energy efficiency ratio, measures the amount of energy used for cooling over a particular period in relation to the total energy consumed in the same period. More specifically, it is calculated by taking the total cooling output over the entire season and dividing it by the total energy required to run the system during that time. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the unit. Air conditioners with high SEER ratings use less electricity and result in lower energy bills.

The most recent minimum SEER requirement was set by the federal government in January 2006. It states that all air conditioners manufactured after that date must achieve a SEER rating of at least 13. You will find that older models have ratings of six or lower. A SEER rating of 13 represents a 30 percent increase in efficiency over a SEER of 10.

Benefits of Choosing Equipment with Higher SEER Ratings

Although these modern units tend to be more expensive, they are worth the investment. Greater system efficiency means better performance, longer life, and lower utility bills. Over time, the higher-rated equipment will pay for itself. In addition, these systems come with an EnergyGuide label that indicates the estimated annual cost of operation as well as the estimated annual energy use. These estimates will help you to better determine the benefits of investing in the system.

As with other systems, care and maintenance should not be overlooked. Even though newer models tend to be quiet and perform without problems, routine maintenance is still required. Regularly scheduled maintenance visits provide the care your system needs to prevent problems and to ensure it continues to live up expectations. Other advantages of purchasing a high-efficiency machine include:

  • Incentives and tax breaks: Some modern equipment, because of increased energy efficiency, are eligible for tax credits. The tax credits are available on a certain percentage of the cost or for a specific amount. Be sure to check on expiration dates for these credits.
  • Better Performance: The systems are higher in efficiency because they are specifically designed to be superior. They are equipped with components that allow them to use less energy and be more durable.
  • Additional Features: Air conditioners with higher SEER ratings tend to come with attractive features such as more user-friendly options and programs, quieter operation, advanced controls and overall increased comfort.
  • Environmentally-Friendly: Systems with higher SEER ratings reduce fossil fuel consumption and air pollution. Importantly too, they do not use refrigerants that deplete the ozone, such as the R-22 refrigerant which is being phased out.

Helping your Air Conditioner

Faulty installation and neglect in other areas can almost nullify the effect of the high SEER rating as these factors can affect system performance and reduce efficiency:

  • Problems affecting airflow: This can be caused by undersized ducts, poor duct layout, and improperly sealed and insulated ductwork. Leaks not only reduce system airflow, but they let precious cooled air escape, reducing your air conditioner’s cooling capacity and wasting money. Dirty filters can also affect your air conditioner’s ability to move air efficiently through the system.
  • Unmatched Systems: If you replace the outdoor unit, for example, in a split system, it is best to replace the indoor unit as well. Operating your air conditioner with systems that are not matched can affect performance.
  • Improper sizing: Your system must be correctly sized to cool and heat your home. A knowledgeable and experienced HVAC contractor can help you to calculate the load requirements, and therefore, the size unit needed for your home. A unit that is too small or too large will not cool efficiently, and will increase your energy bills.

All of these issues affect your AC’s efficiency. In essence, your investment in a high SEER rating could have the effect of a unit with a lower SEER rating if additional factors are ignored.

If you are purchasing or installing a new system and need more information, contact Airwise Heating and Air Conditioning at (817) 444-0090. Our technicians receive continuous training that keeps them knowledgeable about the latest high-efficiency systems, and helps them to provide superior service for your indoor comfort.

Image provided by Shutterstock