Everybody today is conscious of power savings. They want appliances that give optimal output with the least possible power consumption. In short, energy efficiency has become a top priority. One expensive piece of equipment that nobody can live without these days is the HVAC system. Calculating its efficiency may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but since it is a prerequisite to the final decision, you can learn about it through the system’s SEER value.
SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating)
SEER measures an air conditioner or heat pump’s cooling efficiency. It is calculated by dividing the cooling output for a cooling season by the total electric energy it consumes to produce it for the same period.
If you still find it difficult to understand the SEER, here’s an analogy for you – What mile per gallon or mileage is to your car, SEER is to the air conditioner. Now that you can relate to the term better, another important thing to remember is that SEER is the maximum efficiency rating. It is calculated under ideal conditions and rarely do the ideal conditions exist in the real world. So there will be differences in the actual and stated SEER value.
A Good SEER Rating
Many people ask us what is considered a good SEER rating? So instead of giving a fixed value upfront, here’s a little back information. The old air conditioners did not have high SEER values because, at that time, the technology was not as developed as today. An average American home would have an AC with 8 or 9 SEER, which was good enough for then.
Today, states define the minimum SEER that is applicable. Hence, your AC has to be at least either that much or more. Modern air conditioners range between 13 to 21 SEER. So meeting the state requirement, which is 14 SEER (for most states), is not very difficult. But whether that number is good for you depends on several factors, including your location, size, budget, and what you are looking for in a heating and cooling system.
The U.S. Department of Energy imposes minimum SEER needs that vary according to the geographical location. The lowest in Southeast and Southwest America is 14 SEER. It goes down to 13 SEER in North America. Nonetheless, a 13 or 14 SEER rating does not mean the cooling system is inefficient.
Is Higher SEER Better?
The question of the hour is finally here. Is higher SEER better? Fundamentally, yes, it is because it will give you the best efficiency. But is that all you need to look at? No. Your decision on a cooling system cannot be based solely on its SEER value. There are many other things that you need to look at, for example:
1. Temperatures – The temperature has a direct impact on efficiency. If your location is very hot, the cooling system’s efficiency will decline. Hence, even if you buy the highest SEER possible, it will not give you tremendous savings in energy bills.
2. Insulation Quality – If you buy, say, a 21 SEER AC, but the quality of insulation in your home is poor, you can’t expect wonders. The cool air will escape forcing the unit to work longer, and consequently, your savings will, at best, be only marginal.
3. Run Time – If you run your AC at constant temperature 24/7, the system efficiency will only help you so much. The only way you can expect it to show optimal results is by programming the thermostat to cater to the change in temperature throughout the day.
4. User Oversights – Many of us don’t follow the recommended temperature settings. We also fail to schedule the AC’s timely maintenance and sometimes even ignore the system’s need for repairs. These all lead to a decline in the efficiency of the AC.
Higher SEER Is Not Always The Right Choice And Lower SEER Not Always A Wrong One
One core fact that everyone should be aware of is that a higher SEER value has a heftier price tag attached to it. When buying a new AC for your home, it is essential to fully understand the needs of the home and its unique features like the materials used to build it, the amount of sunlight it receives in summers, etc. Consequently, it becomes a battle to strike a balance between what your home demands and your budget. Sometimes choosing a lesser SEER is more about compromising because you need to look at not just your comfort but also what you are willing to pay for it.
What Should Be The SEER Value Of My Next AC?
When it comes to buying a new air conditioner, and you wish to upgrade, a pro tip is to skip a SEER and buy the next one. For example, if your current system is 14 SEER, skip 16 SEER and buy 18 SEER instead. This way, you will be making a wise investment. You will get the best savings and efficiency for a minimal additional expense.
Now that we are talking about expenses let’s briefly talk about the budget. When budgeting for a new AC, make provision for installation cost as well. This way, you will be well covered financially until the new AC is up and running. Most people fail to cater for the installation cost and get an unpleasant surprise when the final amount is deducted from the bank.
The SEER value of the AC is a critical consideration in the purchase decision. Nevertheless, it is not the only one. Although a higher SEER is better, you still need to consider your budget, the requirements of your home, its insulation quality, temperatures in the area, etc. and decide accordingly. Above all, you need to get your home sized by a professional so that you don’t land up with an oversized or undersized unit.
If you feel overwhelmed by all the things you need to consider and take care of, you can call the air experts at Aztil Air Conditioning for expert guidance. You can reach out to us at any time at +1-888-729-8452. We shall be glad to assist you in whatever capacity we can.