What Does a SEER Rating on an Air Conditioner Mean?
Air conditioning units are some of the important investments for your home, as AC’s allow you and your family to remain comfortable all year long, no matter the temperature. Since there are so many types and brands of air conditioners available for purchase, it is, oftentimes, difficult to fully understand which machines are worthwhile and which ones don’t provide you with what you’re seeking. Luckily, SEER ratings are easy to understand and will allow you to select the right air conditioner for your home.
What is a SEER Rating When Applied to Air Conditioning Units?
While the calculations that make up this type of rating for an air conditioning unit can be relatively complicated, it’s easy to understand once you know that the higher the rating the more energy efficient your unit will be. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and is designed to identify the performance of the air conditioner. The SEER rating is determined by the cooling output throughout a standard season divided by the electrical energy input during that same season. The end number is the final rating, providing you with a means of identifying which AC units are worth the cost and which ones you should avoid.
While many products are rated on how well they perform, there’s more to an air conditioning unit than how well it cools your home. For instance, your home may be comfortable and at the right temperature at all times. However, the unit could be using way too much energy just to cool your home to the preferable temperature, which will be displayed through a high monthly energy bill. An AC unit that’s highly efficient is one that cools your home to the preferred temperature while using as little energy as possible.
These ratings start from 8 and extend all the way up into the 30’s, though higher-end central air conditioning units tend to have ratings of 21-25. If you’re someone who wants to do what they can to keep the environment as clean and healthy as possible, a unit with a higher SEER rating has much less of an impact on the environment than one with a lower rating.
While an 8 is the lowest rating possible for an air conditioning unit, especially if you’ve purchased an older one, all units built after January 2006 must have a rating of at least 13, which is a pretty good base efficiency, allowing you to reap a certain amount of benefits even at a lower budget! However, if you can afford to purchase an AC unit with a higher rating, the investment will pay off in dividends in the years to come, as higher ratings can save you a lot of money.
If you live in the sunbelt, it’s heavily recommended that you obtain a unit with a SEER of at least 16, as the hotter summer months will require a heavy duty air conditioning unit that can hold up during the most sweltering of days. It’s also important to understand that you can receive a hefty amount of compensation from a utility company for purchasing a high efficiency unit, making the prospect a much more beneficial one.
What is a Good SEER Rating?
When you’re starting to shop for a new air conditioning unit, you’ll likely want to know which ratings are good enough for you and your home. As touched upon previously, it’s now mandated by the U.S. government for each unit to be rated with at least a 13 SEER rating, providing customers with at least some savings on their energy bill even when purchasing a less efficient unit. The best ratings are invariably the highest ones, particularly anything between 16 and 23, though the ratings extend to around 28 for ductless air conditioning units. While these machines become more expensive the more energy efficient they are, the operating costs associated with them are far lower when accompanied with a high rating.
While a unit with a rating of 8 will cost much less to purchase than a unit with a rating of 20, the savings throughout the life of the system with a higher rating should negate at least a sizable portion of the upfront cost. In regards to the lowest number allowed by the federal government, an air conditioner unit that’s been labeled with a rating of 13 is still considered energy efficient. If you live in a warmer area along the South of the United States, you’ll want to consider a unit with a rating of at least 16-18. Those who live closer to the North can definitely consider a unit with a rating between 13 and 15, though a higher rating will still provide a substantial amount of monetary benefits.
The Importance of a SEER Rating When Purchasing a new AC Unit
Any AC unit with a SEER rating of higher than 16 is considered to be high efficiency. While some homeowners can get by with units that have ratings between 13 and 15, a higher rating offers a wide array of benefits that ensures your investment is a sound one. There are plenty of reasons as to why you should consider a unit that’s rated as a high efficiency one, the most common of which is the fact that your utility bills will be lower. By using less energy overall, the money that’s due at the end of each month for your energy bill should be lessened considerably by having a high efficiency unit installed in your home.
The government also offers a large number of useful incentives and rebates for selecting a high efficiency unit that should come in handy, though such policies differ by state. However, in some states, it’s actually possible to obtain enough rebates and incentives when purchasing the unit for a high efficiency one to cost around the same as a standard unit, allowing you to receive much more benefits at the same price.
High efficiency units also have a better impact on the environment. Units with a rating of higher than 16 use much less energy to operate, reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions sent into the air. A lower amount of electricity being used means that fossil fuels won’t need to be burned at a high rate. Another major benefit of air conditioning units with higher ratings that’s not widely known is that they work much better in regards to keeping air quality high and humidity low.
High efficiency systems will remove much of the humidity that remains in the air throughout your home, keeping you cool and comfortable at all times. The reason for this is because systems with a higher efficiency cool your home at normal rates and lower pressures, keeping humidity from building up. On the other hand, units that are less efficient will cool your house too quickly without first going through the process of removing humidity from the air. The end result of these less efficient AC systems is increased humidity that makes it possible for mold to develop.
Examples of SEER Ratings for Brand Name AC Units
If you’re currently searching for the right air conditioner for your home, it’s important that you choose one that you’re wholly satisfied with. In the event that you’re wondering about the ratings of some of the more popular brand name units around, the following highlights some of the ratings you can expect to find with both Carrier® and Mitsubishi® systems.
When it comes to the air conditioners offered by Carrier®, they have three series of systems available for customers to purchase, including the Infinity series, Comfort series, and Performance series. The Infinity series consists of five different air conditioners with ratings that range from 16-21. The Performance series is also comprised of five units with ratings that range from 13-17. As for the Comfort™ series of air conditioners, a total of seven different air conditioners are included within, with ratings that extend from 14-16. For instance, the Comfort 16 central unit offers a rating of 16.
In regards to Mitsubishi® systems, they provide customers with a selection of 14 unique ductless air conditioning systems. Each unit offers multi-zone cooling and heating and comes with its own unique set of features. The unit with the lowest rating is the MXZ-2C20NAHZ2 model, which still comes with a rating of 17. If you’re searching for the unit with the highest and most efficient rating, you’ll want to choose the MXZ-3C24NA2, which is equipped with a rating of 20. This is just a small sample of the many models offered by Mitsubishi, all of which are high efficiency systems.
Now that you know all there is to know about Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) ratings and what they can tell you about an air conditioning system, you can be confident that you’ve purchased one that meets your needs and the needs of your household.