What’s a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER)?

Four Commercial Air Conditioning Units

If you’ve been shopping for an air conditioner, you’ve probably heard of a seasonal energy efficiency ratio. Put simply, the SEER rating is a measure of your air conditioner’s energy efficiency. Homeowners in McKinney, Texas, need to understand how SEER works in order to choose the right cooling option.

Believe it or not, finding the perfect SEER rating can make a significant difference in cooling your home and lowering your energy bills. Before you impulse-buy a new cooling system for your home, let’s go over what the seasonal energy efficiency ratio of an air conditioner is and why it matters.

What Does SEER Mean?

In technical terms, a seasonal energy efficiency ratio is a coefficient of performance that measures the ratio between an air conditioner’s cooling output in British thermal units (BTU) and the energy it uses in watts (W) per hour (or watt-hours). This is related to the energy efficiency ratio (EER), which is provided by the manufacturer.

But the SEER takes into account a range of outside temperatures to measure how the system will perform under real-time conditions. A higher SEER reflects better energy efficiency when the AC system is operating in your home.

Let’s Break SEER Down Even Further

It can be helpful to think of the seasonal energy efficiency ratio of an air conditioner like gas mileage. Let’s say your car averages 30 miles per gallon (MPG). Although 30 MPG is the standard, it’s safe to say that your car’s miles per gallon will be higher on highways than on roads with frequent traffic lights and heavy traffic.

Now, let’s say your air conditioner has a 16 SEER rating. While 16 SEER is the standard, the exact energy efficiency of your cooling system will depend on several factors, such as the temperature outside. If the outdoor temperature is higher than normal, your air conditioner will work less efficiently since it will have to work extra hard to meet your cooling needs.

What Is the Difference Between SEER and EER?

Now that you have a better understanding of SEER, you might be wondering: What is an energy efficiency ratio?

An energy efficiency ratio (or EER, as it’s referred to) measures the energy efficiency of an air conditioner at a specific temperature. Usually, this temperature is 95 degrees. On the other hand, SEER measures the efficiency of an air conditioner at various temperatures — in fact, it measures the unit’s cooling output throughout a season.

Although knowing what an energy efficiency ratio is can be helpful, you’ll want to focus your attention on SEER ratings. Finding an AC with the right SEER rating can make or break your comfort during the summer — as well as your energy costs.

What Is a Good SEER Rating?

Higher SEER ratings mean better energy efficiency. In many places, it’s mandated that air conditioners can’t have anything lower than a 13 SEER rating. Here in Texas, the legally mandated minimum for any system installed after January 2015 is 14 SEER. However, there are many air conditioners that can exceed it.

For example, ductless air conditioners and heat pumps can reach 33 SEER. That’s thanks to their advanced technology and elimination of leaks in the duct system. Standard central air conditioners with ducts have maximum SEER ratings that are somewhat lower, in part because they lose some of their cooling power to duct leaks.

Geothermal or ground-source heat pumps can reach significantly higher efficiency ratings, up to 75 SEER in some models. However, the actual SEER tends to be slightly lower in our area because of the hot summer weather.

What’s a good SEER rating for a central air conditioner? In most cases, you’ll likely want to consider a system that’s 16 SEER or higher. You can see increased energy savings — especially if the seasonal energy efficiency ratio of your old AC unit was 13 or lower.

If you’re concerned about your energy bills, you might be wondering: What’s a good SEER rating for the most energy savings? You’ll want to consider a unit on the higher end of the spectrum, such as 20 SEER and above.

Is a Higher SEER Rating Worth It?

Although the seasonal energy efficiency ratio can impact your comfort and energy savings, you might be wondering if a high-SEER-rated air conditioner is right for you. Really, it all comes down to your specific needs.

Most AC units with minimum SEER ratings (think 13 or below) provide single-stage cooling. What does this mean? In short, your air conditioner only has two settings: on and off. On the flip side, many high-efficiency AC units offer variable-speed cooling. As the name suggests, variable-speed air conditioners can run at various different speeds. Having this level of control can help lower the chances of cool spots and high humidity forming inside your home.

Are you still unsure if a high-efficiency system is right for you? Don’t hesitate to reach out to a local HVAC technician for help. If it’s time for an AC install in McKinney, TX, an expert can walk you through your options and find a solution that works for you.

Let Us Help You Choose the Right Cooling Option

All other things being equal, the best long-term option is to choose the air conditioner with the highest seasonal energy efficiency ratio. However, when investing in an air conditioner, there are many factors to take into account.

When you need an AC service in McKinney, TX, it’s best to work with a team of professionals that you can trust. Whether you need help installing a new HVAC unit or have questions about the seasonal energy efficiency ratio of a system, our experts are happy to help. Contact Adon Complete Air Conditioning & Heating for expert advice on picking an air conditioning system with the right SEER rating for your home or business.

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