All new air conditioners are labeled with SEER ratings, and this is done to help customers find the models that would work the best for them. However, what exactly does a SEER rating indicate? This overview will answer that question and provide information that could help you select a new air conditioner.

Calculating Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. This ratio lets you know how much energy an air conditioner would use to cool your home. Units with higher SEER ratings are more efficient than ones with lower SEER ratings. Things do get more complicated than that, but this is the basic point that you’ll need to keep in mind when shopping for a new unit.

To figure out an AC’s SEER rating, you need a few numbers, starting with the AC’s BTUs. BTU is another important acronym, and it stands for British thermal units. It lets you know how much heat an air conditioner can take away within an hour. An AC will be labeled with its BTUs, and you should be able to find this information on the AC unit or in its owner’s manual.

Another piece of vital information is the number of watts the AC uses in an hour. Again, this should be somewhere on the label of the AC or in the owner’s manual. When you divide the BTUs by the number of watts consumed, you can calculate the SEER rating.

Minimum SEER Rating

The history of SEER ratings goes pretty far back. In 1987, the government passed a law requiring air conditioners to have SEER ratings of at least 10. Interestingly, this law wasn’t enacted until 1992. Then in 2006, regulations were tightened. At that point, new air conditioners, with the exception of window units, had to come with SEER ratings of at least 13.

More recently, the law changed again. As of January 1, 2023, new air conditioners need to have SEER ratings of at least 14.

SEER Versus SEER2 Ratings

We also need to discuss SEER2 ratings, which are being used more frequently these days. A SEER2 rating is a more realistic indicator of an air conditioner’s efficiency than a SEER rating. That’s because it takes real-world factors into account. In contrast, a SEER rating is calculated using very controlled situations that don’t necessarily mimic reality. For example, when you open your doors at home, accidentally leave windows open, or use large appliances, you’re adding heat into the home, and this could affect your AC’s efficiency. SEER2 ratings do a better job of taking those kinds of things into account than SEER ratings do. As a result, SEER2 ratings are lower than their equivalent SEER ratings. For example, a SEER2 rating of 13.4 would be about the same as a SEER rating of 14.

Why Not Maximize SEER Ratings?

If efficiency is so important, you might be wondering why we don’t raise the minimum SEER ratings even more. Well, there is a practical limit to how efficient an air conditioner can be. After a certain point, it doesn’t make sense from a cost-effective perspective to make an air conditioner more efficient. It becomes harder and more expensive to do so, and the benefits of saving energy don’t completely offset those costs.

Units with higher SEER ratings are typically more expensive than units with lower SEER ratings. This is a key piece of information since most people have limited budgets. You’ll have to consider whether a more expensive, more efficient AC is worth it. When you make that decision, you might want to factor in how much you pay for electricity and how much you use your air conditioner. At AAA Brothers Heating & Air Conditioning, we’ve installed a lot of air conditioners for customers in the Huntingdon Valley area in Pennsylvania. Our area does experience hot summers, but it can stay pretty mild in the spring. Therefore, you might not benefit as much from a unit that’s extremely efficient. However, it’s up to you and your personal preferences.

Happy to Help

We realize that this is a lot of information to take in. Rest assured that we can be there to help you. AAA Brothers Heating & Air Conditioning has been in business since 1989, and we continue to operate as a family-owned business. We provide high-quality services to local customers, and we can assist you with the installation, repair, or maintenance of a heater, an air conditioner, a water heater, a generator, a boiler, a heat pump, and an indoor air quality system. Feel free to ask us any questions, and call to schedule an appointment!

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