What is an Air Conditioning SEER rating?
As weather starts to get blazing hot here in the Bradenton-Sarasota area, many homeowners start to think about the efficiency of their HVAC units. When your AC is relatively new and has good maintenance, you can expect to have a long life with solid output from your machine. However, you may wonder how your equipment stands up to its competitors. One way you compare the various units is by looking at the air conditioning SEER rating.
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It is a number given by the United States Department of Energy, and relates to the way that your air conditioning unit uses energy to keep your home cool. When you purchase the equipment and arrange for installation, you see that the cooling load is measured in terms of British Thermal Units (BTUs). The size of the unit you choose, or tonnage, (such as 3 ton unit) refers to how much heat a unit can extract from the air. For example, a 3 ton air conditioner can remove 3 times as much heat from the air than a 1 ton AC unit can. The BTUs are then compared to the energy your particular model consumed. The end result is a number, typically in the teens. So you will usually see SEER ratings from 13 to 19. A unit with a SEER rating of 13 is 30 percent more efficient than one with a SEER rating of 10 and so on. That doesn’t mean that all 15 SEER air conditioner consume the same amount of electricity. It means that a 1 ton unit and a 3 ton unit with a SEER rating of 15 are as efficient at cooling same per unit amount of air. The three ton unit will still have to consume the energy necessary to cool three times more air.
Air Conditioning Efficiency Changes for 2015
In 2006, the U.S. Department of Energy required all air conditioners to have a SEER rating minimum of 13. The U.S. has changes in store for 2015, however. One of the problems with SEER ratings is that they do not give you a good idea of your cooling needs based on a particular area. While the minimum SEER rating for people living in the southeast will change to 14 on January 1, the need for higher levels of efficiency will depend more on the climate. For example, someone living in Maine may not need the best air conditioning SEER rating. But, in Sarasota, FL, with year-round use of air conditioning, higher efficiency is a safer bet.
Before you can consider repair or maintenance for your old unit, take a look at its SEER rating. A higher efficiency air conditioner may mean significant savings on your cooling costs.