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SEER Predicts A.C. Efficiency Better Than Any Seer

If you’re in the market for a new car, one of your primary concerns is a vehicle’s MPG, or Miles per Gallon. This is perhaps the best gauge of fuel economy for an automobile; in other words, it’s a useful indicator of efficiency: for every one gallon of gas, you can drive for approximately X miles. Now, when it comes to air conditioners, the standard way to designate the efficiency of a certain unit is by its Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, or SEER.

SEER is calculated by taking the amount of cooling produced (measured in BTU) divided by the amount of electricity (measured in Watt-Hours) used over the span of an entire cooling season. The analysts run a unit at a constant indoor temperature while simulating varying outdoor temps (ranging from 65℉ to 104℉) and compute the average. In short, cooling output divided by electricity input. Hence, the higher the SEER, the greater the air conditioner’s operational efficiency.

SEER = (BTU per Hour) / Watts

In the United States, the EPA mandates that all air conditioners (excluding window units) manufactured after January 1, 2015 must have a minimum SEER rating of 14 to 14.5 in the Southern Regions of the U.S., and 13 for the Northern areas. The highest rating for conventional units falls in the mid-twenties range, although there are ductless and geothermal systems which can exceed 30, but those aren’t viable options for the average homeowner.

For the consumer, two points of paramount importance should be kept in mind regarding SEER:

  1. SEER is a maximum rating, not a constant rating. This indicates that a unit’s peak performance can be as high as X SEER, rather than that a unit always operates at X SEER.

  2. Recall the comparison to a car’s MPG. The vehicle’s average will differ greatly when driven on the highway versus city, or if driven with a lead foot, or constant stopping-and-starting, etc. Likewise, if you are perpetually manipulating the thermostat, or a home is poorly insulated, or prolonged extreme weather spells occur, the consumer will not reap the maximum potential of SEER value.

When shopping around for a new air conditioner do not necessarily opt for a unit with the highest-rated SEER. For every increase in SEER value, the cost of the machine rises significantly. Shelling-out a significant amount of money does not guarantee that money will be recouped in savings when the electric bill arrives each month. To find an air conditioner that best suits a home’s needs always consult an experienced HVAC contractor. A professional has the tools and know-how to figure out a particular home’s “load calculation” and recommend the most suitable make and model to ensure peak comfortability.


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