You may have heard the acronym “SEER” coupled with talk of energy efficiency. But what does SEER even mean? The term stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, and every version of an AC unit goes through testing to determine its ranking on the SEER scale.
Why does this matter? More specifically, why should you—the consumer—know about it? There are several reasons why an air conditioning system’s SEER rating should be taken into consideration. Knowing how a unit rates on the efficiency scale prior to purchasing it can save you a significant amount of money each year. Beyond that, the state of Florida actually has standards that require any new system install to meet a certain rating or better in order for it to be legally installed.
But before we delve too far into what the SEER rating does for you, let us first explain what it is and how it works.
The Seer Scale Explained
A SEER rating is an evaluation determined by the ratio of your AC unit’s cooling measured in BTU’s compared to the amount of energy in watt-hours expended. You can find the formula here.
Not a mathematician? No problem. Technical jargon and baffling equations aside, a SEER rating is rated on how much cooling a system can do with the least amount of energy used. The higher the cooling rate and lower the energy needed to achieve it, the better the AC system will score. The higher the score, the more efficient the system is reported to be.
Pretty straightforward, right?
SEER ratings can vary tremendously based on the type of system and how old it is. Engineers and manufacturers of modern-day air conditioning systems are aiming to be more and more energy efficient. The typical SEER scale ranges between 8 and 23.
If you aren’t sure what your current AC unit’s SEER rating is, here is an average estimate based on the age of your air conditioning system:
- 2006 and Newer: 13 and above
- 1992 to 2005: Between 10 and 12
- 1986 to 1991: Less than or equal to 8
- 1980 to 1985: Less than or equal to 7
- Before 1980: Less than or equal to 6
If you’re wondering which of these categories is “too old,” the answer is anything manufactured before 2006. Even if your system is still running fairly well, the sheer amount of energy wasted in keeping it going is costing you more each month than it should.
In fact, you may be spending hundreds of dollars more on your utility bill each year than you should. Studies have shown that if your SEER rating is 10 or below, you could be spending close to 80% more energy than you would with a newer model.
United States Of America Seer Rating Mandate
The United States of America began moving toward more energy efficient systems in the late 1980’s. It was in 1987 that the first piece of legislation was passed requiring AC units installed to have a minimum SEER rating of 10. This legislation was officially put into effect in 1992.
Since then, the US has updated this legislation, requiring all residential systems manufactured after January 2006 to have a minimum SEER rating of 13. The only exception to this rule is a window unit, although they still rank at about 10 on the SEER scale.
This legislation didn’t require residents to replace their current unit if it ranked below the official standard for SEER ratings. Instead, it is applied to “all installs moving forward” so that eventually the old and inefficient will die out and be replaced by new, better models.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you have to wait until your system goes kaput in order to upgrade. In fact, you can save hundreds of dollars by investing in a new system. The best thing to do is to talk to a certified air conditioning professional if your system was created prior to 2005 and compare your current model and its condition to what it would cost to upgrade to a newer, more efficient system.
Shopping For A Quality Air Conditioning System
BHS offers a host of Carrier air conditioning systems to choose from. Each model meets the required SEER rating standard, or exceeds it, and has its own advantages in energy efficiency, noise level when in operation, and features included. Take a look!
We can also help you determine which model is best for your home based on your home’s size, your budget, and any unique needs that you and your family might require. Give the professionals at BHS a call today at (239) 291-0860 . One of our friendly staff members will be happy to answer any questions you may have!