What is a SEER Rating?

If you have been researching purchasing a new central air conditioning unit you may have come across the term ‘SEER Rating’ and wondered what it is. The letters are actually short for a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio Rating.

What does a SEER Rating, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio Rating, mean?

In basic terms, this rating is a way to measure and compare the efficiency of different air conditioning systems. As Wikipedia explains:

“The SEER rating of a unit is the cooling output during a typical cooling-season divided by the total electric energy input during the same period. The higher the unit’s SEER rating the more energy efficient it is. In the U.S., the SEER is the ratio of cooling.”

The higher a system’s rating is, the more energy efficient it is. Higher ratings mean the systems are better for the environment. It also means that they will save you more money on monthly utility expenses.

How can I find a system’s SEER Rating?

Newer central air conditioning systems should have an ‘Energy Guide’ on them. The SEER listing will be listed on that guide. You can also visit the manufacturer’s website to learn what the ratings for their different makes and models are. Please keep in mind that the SEER rating shown is the maximum rating for that system, meaning that it is the rating when the system is working at its peak efficiency. If the system goes without annual maintenance, doesn’t have its filters changed regularly, etc… the rating will not be as high.

Why does a SEER rating matter?

With today’s federally mandated energy efficiency standards, all new central air conditioning systems must have a minimum SEER rating of 13, while some states have stricter guidelines and require a minimum SEER Rating of 14. To put those numbers in perspective, units that were installed just 10 years ago may have had a SEER Rating as low as a 6. Today’s SEER Rating regulations are tougher, but they are in place to help homes stay as energy efficient as possible, while saving homeowner’s money on home energy costs.

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