Removing the Mystery From SEER Ratings
It can be a challenge searching through all the air conditioner brand options available in O’Fallon. It would be best to find a brand that works well for your region’s climate and the size of your home. Other factors to consider are tax rebates, energy savings, and performance levels. However, one of the primary factors and, often, one of the most confusing is determining the SEER rating of your air conditioner. This post will highlight what you should know about SEER ratings and how they impact air conditioner performance.
What Is a SEER Rating?
SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) measures how efficiently an air conditioner functions. It takes a complicated concept and transmits it in easy-to-understand and smaller numbers. You will usually find the SEER rating on a yellow sticker on the exterior of a unit. First, you will see the term “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.” Then, underneath it, a larger number will tell you the rating of the air conditioner you wish to purchase. And underneath that, you will see a scale indicating where the unit sits when compared with similar models of air conditioners.
The SEER guide system was created in conjunction with legislation passed in the late 1980s. This legislation dictated the minimum performance levels that air conditioners must have.
What Are the Minimum SEER Ratings?
In 1975, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) gave the DOE (US Department of Energy) the authority to implement, revise, and develop minimum energy conservation standards for equipment and appliances. From time to time, the EPCA will have the DOE revise or amend these energy conservation standards for their equipment. These adjustments are usually based on what is available with the latest technology for the appliance. They also consider whether these new standards are economically justifiable.
In 1987, The National Appliance Energy Conservation Act laid out the minimum requirements for air conditioners and heat pumps sold in the United States. The standards were enforced in 1992, and subsequent updates were seen in 2006 and 2015.
The newest standards, effective as of 2023, require that SEER measures a system’s performance to be no less than 14 SEER if it is a residential system used in the northern parts of the United States. For the southern parts of the US, the minimum is 15 SEER. The standards are slightly higher in the southern United States because cooling is a more significant part of the home’s energy use. Therefore, it makes sense that the equipment used in this part of the country would need to be more energy efficient.
The SEER standards have consistently increased since 1992. For example, in 1992, the standard for units in northern, southern, and southwestern parts of the US was a minimum SEER rating of 10. In 2015, the SEER rating for the northern United States was 13, and for the south and southwest regions, it was 14.
SEER ratings represent a combined standard that lets you know how much you will pay annually in energy costs. This allows you to look at different air conditioning units and find the one that is right for your home’s needs.
The SEER rating is not an absolute thing, but it is an average. Other factors that could impact how efficiently your air conditioner or heat pump works include the insulation in your home, the ductwork, the number of windows you have, and the size of your home.
How Is the SEER Rating Calculated?
To understand how a SEER rating is calculated, you need to understand what a British Thermal Unit (BTU) is and what a kilowatt-hour is. One BTU equals the amount of heat required to increase or lower the temperature of one pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. A kilowatt-hour is the amount of energy an appliance uses measured in kilowatts over one hour. For example, if your vacuum cleaner is rated at 1,000 kilowatt-hours, you use one kilowatt of power for every hour you vacuum.
The SEER rating is calculated by taking all the BTUs of heat removed from the air and dividing that by the amount of energy the air conditioner uses in kilowatt-hours. The higher the ratio, the better the efficiency of the air conditioner. When evaluating power, the SEER ratio compares the cooling power of the air conditioner, measured in BTUs per hour, with the electrical power consumption, measured in watts of the unit. There are some similarities between the SEER rating and the coefficiency of performance, a common principle of thermodynamics.
Are SEER and EER the Same Thing?
No. Energy efficient ratio (EER) is a type of measurement used for window air conditioner units. EER measures central air conditioners as well as heat pumps. SEER is designed to gauge how much energy you will use running your central air conditioner. For this reason, the air conditioner is tested at temperatures that start at 65 degrees Fahrenheit up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. EER ratings focus on energy efficiency at 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, SEER and EER give you a quick and effortless way to gauge air conditioning efficiency. You can compare these ratings to the miles-per-gallon rating on a car. When you look at them, you get a quick overview of how efficiently the air conditioning unit will run at optimal conditions.
What Is the Best SEER Rating For Your Home?
You want your air conditioner to have a SEER rating of at least 14 if not higher. The average for air conditioners on the market today is around 16. However, you can find some energy-efficient models with a rating of up to 23.
Everyone’s home is different, so there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all SEER rating. Additionally, newer air conditioners, especially those with the Energy Star certification, are more efficient than previous models. So there are several factors, in addition to the SEER rating, that you will need to evaluate when choosing a suitable unit for your home. At Hoff Heating & AC, our technicians can help you assess your energy use needs and help you determine the best unit options for your home.
An air conditioner with a SEER rating of 16 or higher means lower energy consumption. This could translate into less money spent each month on energy costs. For example, if your current unit is an older model with an eight SEER, upgrading it to a 16 SEER unit could cut your energy bill in half. Additionally, the government offers financial incentives to individuals who use high-efficiency AC systems in their homes.
Benefiting From Complete HVAC Services in O’Fallon
At Hoff Heating & AC, we offer our customers complete solutions for your HVAC needs. We are proud to work with expertly trained NATE-certified technicians. We have worked hard to maintain an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Our efficient service is backed by more than 30 years of hands-on experience.
Our services include HVAC installation, maintenance, and repair. We work with new construction and remodels. We offer system design and project management. And we are proud to be able to provide our customers with a full line of products that will meet their needs. Contact Hoff Heating & AC today to learn more about our products and services.