SEER: What It Is and Why It Matters

Air conditioner

If you’re considering a new home air conditioning system and haven’t shopped for one in a while, you may be surprised at the alphabet soup of acronyms you’ll encounter in your search.

One of the most important of these is SEER, which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. Here are four SEER questions and answers that can help you make a more informed buying choice:

  1. What is SEER? Much like MPG in your car, SEER measures the energy efficiency of your home cooling system: the higher the SEER rating of a unit, the more efficiently it turns energy into cool air.
  2. How is SEER determined? SEER is a season-long ratio of total cool air produced (measured in BTUs) versus the energy consumed (in watt hours) to produce that air during the cooling season.
  3. What is a good SEER rating? New air conditioning units are required by law to produce a minimum SEER rating of 13 (in 2015, the US Department of Energy raised the SEER minimum to 14 in some hotter areas of the country). If you have an older A/C unit, its SEER rating could be as low as 7 or 8, especially when you factor in wear and tear – which means you’ll pay twice as much for the same amount of cooling, all other things being equal!
  4. What is a payback period? Air conditioning systems with higher SEER ratings cost more – about 8-10 percent for every 1-point increase in SEER rating, all other things being equal. The payback period is the time it takes to recover the extra cost of buying an AC unit with a higher SEER rating. An 18 SEER central air conditioner might have a 3-4 year payback period compared to a 14 SEER model, depending on the workload (the more it works, the faster the payback period).

SEER rating is obviously not the only factor in determining the efficiency of air conditioning in your home: proper installation, maintenance and sizing of your equipment is every bit as important. To get the right system for your home, it pays to get guidance from an expert.

Contact Oehlert Bros. today for a FREE estimate on a new A/C unit for your home – and don’t forget to ask about our $100 installation special!