Is a High SEER Rating Important for Your Home’s AC?

SEER rated AC unit

Do you need a new air conditioner? Should your future central system have the highest seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) available? If you’ve heard a high SEER rating is the way to go, take a look at what you need to know about this number, energy efficiency, and home cooling before you invest in a new AC system.

What Is a SEER Rating?

The seasonal energy efficiency ratio is exactly what the name says—the ratio (number) of the air conditioner’s energy efficiency over the annual cooling season. More specifically, this ratio measures the total heat the air conditioner removes (from the interior space) divided by the electricity the system uses annually.

What Is a High SEER Rating?

A higher SEER rating should equal increased energy efficiency and lower electricity bills. The reduced energy usage and operating costs of high SEER number units often appeal to homeowners who want to save money and help the planet.

While new technology and innovations allow the HVAC industry to increase efficiency, current top SEER numbers range from the 18 to the miod-20’s.

How Can a Homeowner Find Out the SEER Rating?

What is the SEER rating of the air conditioner you want to buy and install? The SEER number is listed on the unit itself. But if you haven’t seen the unit or are ordering the AC system from an HVAC contractor, ask the professional. The technician or installation expert can provide you with the SEER rating before you commit to a new purchase.

Is Higher Better?

Even though it might seem like the highest SEER number possible is the best unit for your home, this isn’t always true. While a high SEER rating indicates the air conditioner’s advanced ability to efficiently remove heat from the indoor environment (your home’s space) over the course of one cooling system, a 20-plus unit isn’t always the best choice.

In general, higher SEER rated air conditioners are more expensive. While you can find high SEER number systems at a variety of price points, the quality and technology used in most of these air conditioners comes at a greater initial purchase cost in comparison to a unit rated in the low teens.

If you want to lower overall air conditioner-related costs, you need to calculate the cost savings of a higher SEER unit versus the initial purchase price. Some high-prices/high-SEER units may not pay for themselves over time. A qualified HVAC contractor can help you to calculate the cost-savings difference between SEER ratings and compare the price of use to the purchase and installation costs.

Is Lower Better?

In general, a lower SEER rating isn’t a better choice. While the highest SEER rated air conditioner isn’t necessary in every home, the lowest SEER rated model can cost you in excessive energy bills. Even though low SEER rated units are cheaper to buy, you are likely to pay more in energy costs. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests homeowners choose models with a minimum of a 15 SEER rating.

A low SEER rated system may need to run for longer periods of time to cool your home effectively. Along with cooling the air, the AC system also removed humidity. Lower SEER units may not dehumidify your home completely. This can leave the indoor air sticky and uncomfortable.

Is the SEER Rating the Only Feature to Look For?

While SEER rating is key to lowering home energy usage and the related cooling costs, it doesn’t always guarantee a low electricity bill. The system’s components or features also play key roles in how well your air conditioner works.

A single speed air handler is the least efficient option for a new AC unit. A two-speed air handler can reduce costs, in comparison to a single-speed selection. But if you want to save the most money in cooling costs, a variable speed air handler is the best option, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Along with the air handler, the thermal expansion valve can add to the unit’s overall energy efficiency. Don’t worry if you have little to no knowledge of the air conditioner’s parts. A qualified HVAC contractor can help you to choose the right combination of features and SEER number for your home’s needs.

Does Installation Play a Role in Home Cooling?

Simply stated: yes, installation plays a primary role in your new air conditioner’s ability to efficiently and effectively cool your home. A high SEER rated air conditioner that’s the wrong size for your home’s interior space and energy needs may not save you money.

An HVAC contractor can calculate size based on the square footage to cool combined with potential energy loss (such as leaky air ducts or poor insulation). They can also install the unit to the manufacturer’s specifications and make sure the ducts, thermostat, and other parts of the system work correctly.

Do you need a new air conditioner? Contact Derek Sawyers Heating & Air Conditioning for more information.

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