Understanding Air Conditioner Efficiency Ratings

Air Conditioner Efficiency Rating

When homeowners throughout the Delaware Valley need to replace their air conditioning systems, one of the key challenges they face is understanding air conditioner efficiency ratings. The more efficient an air conditioner is, the less it is going to cost you over the life of the unit, so choosing the best AC for your home comes down to finding the right balance between the initial expense and the total cost.

What is SEER and Does It Matter?

Knowing what SEER means is essential to understanding air conditioner efficiency ratings. SEER stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio and is a standard established by the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute. This unit is a measure of cooling output over a typical cooling season divided by the total electric energy usage during that same period. In other words, the higher the SEER, the more energy efficient an AC is and therefore cheaper to run on a month-to-month basis.

In 1992, legislation in the U.S. went into effect that prevented companies from making air conditioners with a SEER rating lower than 10. In 2006, the U.S. increased that minimum to 13, and the Department of Energy established SEER 14.5 as the standard for an AC to be Energy Star certified.

Is SEER2 the Same as SEER?

One of the confusing aspects of understanding air conditioner efficiency ratings is that the AHRI has recently introduced SEER2, which is similar in concept to SEER but not the same. SEER2 is a new version of the rating, and its creation was prompted by the DOE changing how air conditioners are tested.

SEER and SEER2 are not directly comparable. An AC unit with a 14 SEER rating, for instance, has a 13.4 SEER2 rating. When comparing systems, consumers should ensure that they are comparing SEER to SEER or SEER2 to SEER2. As of January 2023, all air conditioners must be made to the new standards and tested and assigned both a SEER and SEER2 rating. In the future, SEER will eventually be phased out.

What About EER?

EER stands for energy efficiency ratio. SEER measures energy efficiency over a season whereas EER is a measure of how efficient an AC is when the outdoor temperature is 95° Fahrenheit. For the typical homeowner, SEER tends to be more useful, but you can compare units by EER as well.

Is a Higher Rating Always Better?

A common question among homeowners when it comes to understanding air conditioner efficiency ratings has to do with whether the unit with the higher rating is always better. From the perspective of the consumer, the answer to this question is no. In this region, the minimum SEER rating is 14. You’ll likely want to target an Energy Star-certified unit and thus an AC with a 14.5 rating. But anything higher than that may not be necessary and is something you should discuss with your AC technician.

Oliver Is Here to Help

Oliver Heating & Cooling has been installing, servicing, and repairing air conditioners throughout the Delaware Valley for more than 50 years, and we’d be happy to help you choose the ideal air conditioner for your home. Call us today or contact us online to schedule that appointment or with any additional questions regarding understanding air conditioner efficiency ratings.

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