What’s a good SEER rating when buying a new air conditioner? SEER is one of the first buzzwords you learn when doing a little research online. But it’s also one of the most confusing, and depending on who you trust, may also be the most misleading.
What Is SEER?
Before we get into what a good SEER rating is, it’s important to understand what SEER is. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, though you’ll also find some refer to it incorrectly as Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating.
SEER is the ratio of cooling output over the cooling season, divided by the energy it consumes. This number is the average calculated over the entire season of cooling. It assumes the indoor temperature remains the same, while using a variety of different outdoor temperatures to simulate what normally happens during the summer cooling season.
Today’s modern air conditioners must have a SEER value of 14 according to the US Department of Energy’s requirements. And you’ll find high efficiency air conditioners often go way beyond and into the mid-20s, changing frequently based on today’s technology. That may seem like a wide array of ratings, and if they can be rated into the 20s, 14 must be the bottom-line and not very efficient.
Don’t let the numbers fool you.
A lot of it depends on what’s currently operating in your home. If you have an older model, it may be rated 9 or below. By upgrading to a 14, you can make your cooling much more efficient with the upgrade, and find a noticeable improvement from month to month.
Plus it’s important to remember that SEER is a maximum rating. It changes all the time based on current requirements.
Think of SEER in a similar way as you view miles per gallon MPG with your car. The sticker may have given you a rating, but what you actually get depends on a variety of things: how you drive, city vs highway driving, gas efficiency, etc.
If you adjust the temperature of your home several times per day, your SEER rating will go down. Yes, you might do that with the thermostat. But here in Colorado, it isn’t far-fetched to have record-setting temperature in the afternoon, and a freak storm that cools the temperatures by 40 or 50 degrees by the evening. That can play with your efficiency rating.
Is a higher SEER worth the money? It depends.
Higher SEER rated air conditioners are going to be more expensive. And depending on how you operate within your home, it may take months – years – to accumulate the difference.
That’s why it’s important to do business with an HVAC company you can trust. When we evaluate your current situation, we’ll provide you with your options and help you make the best decision for your situation. And it’s quite often not the highest SEER rated air conditioner on the market.
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