Investing in a higher SEER rating is smart for those in hot climates. However, higher-efficiency models are not a one-size-fits-all solution.
An experienced HVAC professional can help navigate size, pricing, and SEER ratings to find the right solution for your home. In addition, a professional can explain the manufacturer’s rebates to reduce the overall cost.
What is the SEER Rating?
The SEER Rating is a measure of your air conditioner’s energy efficiency. It is a ratio of cooling output divided by the power input. The higher the SEER Rating, the more efficient your air conditioner is. The higher the SEER Rating, the lower your energy bills will be.
The US Department of Energy requires that residential AC systems have a minimum SEER rating based on your geographic region. For example, California and the Southwest have a minimum SEER rating of 14, while the Northern states have a minimum SEER rating of 13.
A high SEER rating will also help to reduce your environmental impact. However, it is important to note that a high SEER rating does not necessarily mean better quality equipment.
Many manufacturers are now offering high-SEER air conditioners that are as reliable as older units. In fact, you can often purchase a 14 SEER system for the same price as an old 8-9 SEER unit.
Purchasing a high-SEER unit is still a good idea, especially if your old air conditioner has a SEER rating of less than 10. However, it is also important to note that just because your new air conditioner has a high SEER rating doesn’t mean it will always perform at this level. Outside factors can affect your air conditioner’s performance, including the outdoor temperatures, thermostat settings, and building envelope.
When deciding on the right SEER Rating for your home, consider the outside conditions and how you use your air conditioning. A knowledgeable HVAC specialist can help you select the best air conditioning unit for your needs and explain any manufacturer’s rebates or tax credits that may be available.
If you are looking for a new air conditioner, be sure to ask about two-stage or modulating technology. This will allow your air conditioner to run at a lower capacity for longer periods of time, making it more energy efficient and easier on the equipment. It will also provide a more even temperature throughout your home, benefiting anyone who suffers from allergies or asthma.
What is the difference between SEER and AFUE?
The SEER and AFUE ratings on your air conditioning system are important to understand, as these numbers can impact how much you spend on energy costs throughout the year. High-SEER systems are more efficient, using less power to achieve the same results, which means lower utility bills for you. But a few other factors come into play, including equipment pairing and proper installation. The good news is that your HVAC professional will help you determine the best equipment for your needs, and they’ll be able to give you more specifics on how much you can save by investing in a higher-SEER system.
The minimum industry standard for new air conditioners in the United States is a SEER of 13. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which measures how efficient an AC unit is over the course of the cooling season. SEER ratings are based on baseline tests conducted at fixed indoor and outdoor temperatures and relative humidity levels, but it’s a good idea to check manufacturers’ extended testing data to ensure that the unit will perform well under typical summer conditions in your region.
The good news is that even in colder climates, you can still see significant cost savings by purchasing a higher-SEER model. And as the energy efficiency standards for AFUE and SEER continue to rise, your utility company may offer rebates on certain models.
Ultimately, your contractor will be able to tell you the right SEER and AFUE rating for your home, as every house has different needs. However, a high-SEER system is a great investment for any homeowner who wants to make their home more energy efficient.
While the SEER and AFUE ratings on your appliance can seem intimidating, they’re actually straightforward to understand. Keeping an eye out for these labels on your furnace or air conditioner will help you select the most efficient model for your household in Chesapeake. Contact one of our home energy specialists to learn more about how these ratings work and to find out which products may qualify for rebates through your local utility company.
What is the difference between AFUE and BTUs?
Like the number of miles you get per gallon of gas, an air conditioner’s SEER rating is a representation of its energy efficiency under specific conditions. Generally, the higher the SEER rating, the more efficient an AC system is.
SEER ratings are determined over the course of a cooling season and represent the ratio of an air conditioning unit’s cooling output to its energy input in watt-hours. During testing, an air conditioner is subjected to varying indoor and outdoor weather conditions to simulate real-world operating conditions.
The minimum SEER rating is 13. Since 2015, manufacturers have been required to produce air conditioning systems with a minimum SEER of 14 for homeowners in certain states with the hottest summer climates (Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas).
In addition to lowering energy costs, an air conditioner with a high SEER rating can also help protect the environment. Air conditioners with a SEER rating of over 16 typically use less energy than their 13-SEER counterparts, saving an average homeowner about $300 a year in electricity bills.
The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient a new air conditioner is. Depending on your home and how much it cools, a 14-SEER or higher system can save you up to $3,000 in energy costs over the lifespan of your AC system.
Although a new AC with a high SEER rating can be more expensive than an older system, the savings in energy costs will cancel out the initial cost within a few years. Also, many HVAC professionals offer tax credits and manufacturer’s rebates that can make a high-SEER system affordable.
In addition to a SEER rating, homeowners should consider the AFUE rating of an air conditioning unit before making any final decisions. AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency and represents the percentage of heat generated that actually gets used in your home. An AFUE rating of 90 percent means that for every 100 BTUs the air conditioner produces, it uses up to 10 BTUs of gas or other energy.
What is the difference between AFUE and EER?
The SEER rating is the most common for air conditioning units, but other energy efficiency ratios can also be useful. EER is a rating for room air conditioners and is the ratio of cooling capacity to electricity used. HSPF is a rating for heat pumps and is the equivalent of SEER in heating mode.
The difference between SEER and these other ratings is that SEER is a rating for an entire cooling season, while EER is a snapshot of efficiency in a specific situation based on lab conditions. For this reason, the higher the SEER rating, the more efficient an AC unit is over a longer period of time.
As a general rule, you want to choose an air conditioner with the highest SEER rating that you can afford. This will not only save you money on your energy bill, but it will also help reduce your impact on the environment. However, the actual return on investment from a high SEER system will depend on many factors, including your home size, climate, and current insulation and ductwork.
SEER is a ratio of cooling output to electric energy input. It is determined in a laboratory using a constant indoor temperature and varying outdoor temperatures to simulate real-world conditions. During the test, the amount of power required to achieve a given level of cooling is recorded, and the ratio of cooling output to electric energy usage is calculated.
While the lab tests are accurate, they do not represent the exact conditions under which a particular AC system will operate in your home. This is why the Department of Energy has introduced a new testing procedure and changed the SEER rating system to SEER 2. The changes make the ratings more relevant to consumers and reflect improvements in equipment performance and the accuracy of the testing conditions.
The new standards, which went into effect on January 1, 2023, require a minimum SEER of 13 in the North and 14 in the South and Southwest. The higher SEER ratings may also help you qualify for certain state and federal rebates.