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Understanding Efficiency Ratings

As the weather gets warmer, you might be curious about how to get the most out of your Air Conditioning system. The SEER rating on your system could make a big difference in your comfort and on your wallet.

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (or Rating). This is the ratio of the cooling output of an air conditioner over a typical cooling/heating season, divided by the energy it uses in Watt-Hours. It also reflects the amount of cooling your system will deliver per dollar spent on electricity, as compared to other systems. In short, it’s how the equipment’s efficiency is measured.

For example, a 3-ton unit may have a SEER efficiency rating of 13, 14, or 15. The higher the SEER the more efficient the system will be. The lower the number is, the lower the efficiency will be. You’ll want a higher number because of the greater efficiency and utility savings. The SEER rating of any given unit can range anywhere from 13 to 21. The difference in rating is like comparing a meh system vs. a super-booster system. But having a super-booster system, aka the highest SEER rating of 21, could make the initial investment in the system you want more expensive. However, the yearly savings in utility costs could be worth it.

Keep in mind that SEER is a maximum efficiency rating, like the miles per gallon for your car. Say your car gets 28 miles per gallon on the highway. But if you’re stuck in city traffic it’s a lot less efficient. The same goes for your air conditioner. If your SEER ratio is 21, that’s the maximum efficiency and it could be lower depending on a variety of conditions. 

The efficiency of your system can vary based on the size of your home, your current ductwork and other variables. Even with a high SEER rating, it’s still helpful to close your blinds in the summer, use a fan and avoid drastic temperature increases and decreases.

And if you have a lower SEER rating, your system can still be efficient. Most older AC systems are only rated at around 8 or 9, so even the lowest available SEER rated system you buy today will be much more energy efficient than an outdated system.

Air conditioners with lower SEER ratings are usually single-stage and only run on one speed. This means they’ll frequently turn on and off during mild weather and you’ll experience uneven cooling or hot and cold spots. You’ll also experience higher humidity levels which makes it feel hotter than it is. Your AC needs to run for a long period of time to remove humidity from your home’s air. The ups and downs of a single-stage system don’t accommodate for this.

If saving on your monthly utilities is important, you might consider upgrading your system to reduce the cost of cooling or heating your home. Many utility companies offer rebates and incentives when upgrading. Plus, you can also feel good about using less fuel and emitting fewer greenhouse emissions.

Call your friends at Lorenz Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning at 417-863-1122 to learn more about what SEER rating would be best for your home or business.