Whether you’re considering replacing your air conditioner or heat pump, you need to pay attention to SEER ratings. This number is displayed on all yellow EnergyGuide labels, and it is the key to saving money on your home’s cooling costs.
Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio
Like how an AFUE rating is used to rate the energy efficiency of a heater, the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating rates the efficiency of cooling equipment. An air conditioner will have a SEER rating that gives you an idea as to how much you should expect to pay for the energy costs to run it under normal conditions. The SEER rating on a heat pump will refer to the energy costs of it running while set to its cooling mode.
The calculation for determining a unit’s SEER rating is pretty simple and uses just two numbers:
- The unit’s Btu cooling output that is determined by running it in an environment that is set up to mimic a typical hot summer day
- The watt-hours, which is the total energy input that the unit requires when operating under those same conditions
To calculate the SEER, the Btu is then divided by the watt-hours.
What SEER Rating Should You Look For?
The federal government currently requires manufacturers to reach a minimum of 13 SEER for air conditioners and heat pumps sold in the United States. However, there are some high-efficiency units available that are rated 26 SEER.
As a rule of thumb, you should try to go with a higher SEER rating. While you will pay 20% or more than the cost of a minimal SEER unit, your cooling costs will be reduced in some cases by up to 50%. This helps you recover your ROI sooner and gives you the benefit of reduced costs after that investment is recovered. Overall, you could actually pay less by paying more upfront for a higher SEER unit.
To get the most out of an air conditioner or furnace with a higher SEER rating, you need to make sure that the rest of your home’s HVAC system is designed with efficiency in mind. You should have your system inspected by a professional HVAC company like Conan Heating & Air Conditioning in Idaho Falls. We can recommend the best system for your home.