Whenever it’s time to consider upgrading your existing home cooling system, there are a lot of factors that you’ll want to take into consideration. Understanding what the SEER rating means can help you to determine the right cooling system for your home.
What Is a SEER Rating?
A SEER rating is a measurement that is given to a cooling system to help establish its cooling efficiency. The rating is calculated by taking the total cooling output for the system (BTUs) and dividing it by the total electric energy input utilized during the exact same time frame.
The higher the SEER rating, the less energy it will take to produce cool air for your home. Conversely, the lower the SEER rating, the more energy input will be required to produce that cool air. It’s quite helpful to think of a SEER rating as similar to the miles per gallon for your vehicle. The more miles you can get with the same amount of fuel, the better.
SEER Stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio
Any given SEER rating states the maximum efficiency that you can expect from a cooling system. It doesn’t guarantee that a cooling system is going to be working at its maximal efficiency all of the time. Rather, it’s just stating what the cooling system can be capable of under optimal working conditions.
When calculating a SEER rating, HVAC professionals will run the cooling system for an entire season at a constant indoor temperature. This assumes a variety of outdoor temperatures ranging from 60 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This way, they can get an accurate depiction of how a cooling system will operate for the average homeowner throughout the year.
What Is Considered a Good SEER Rating?
While knowing a higher SEER rating is optimal, that doesn’t help until you have a set standard for what’s considered a good rating. SEER ratings range from a low of 1 to a high of 20. Most modern cooling systems will have a SEER rating that ranges between 13 and 21. Older cooling systems will typically have a SEER rating of 9 or below.
An air conditioning system will fall into one of three main categories based on its SEER rating. These include:
- Baseline Efficiency – 13 to 16
- Mid-Efficiency – 16 to 18
- High Efficiency – 19 and up
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) requires that all cooling systems produced in 2015 or later must have a SEER rating of at least 13. Furthermore, the California Government now requires that all centralized air conditioning systems installed as of 2015 have a minimum SEER rating of 14.
Central air conditioning systems must have a minimum SEER rating of 14.5 to qualify for an Energy Star certification. The right SEER rating for your home is going to be highly dependent on a number of factors like your budget and location.
A Note on Ductless Mini-Split Systems
One type of home air conditioning system that is becoming more popular is the ductless mini-split. This offers both cooling and heating through an individual wall or ceiling-mounted unit. Depending on the specific brand and model, these ductless mini-split systems can have a SEER rating of 30. Most have a rating that is around 20 or higher.
How Can You Find Your Current Cooling System’s SEER Rating?
It’s completely natural to want to know what your current cooling system’s SEER rating is. This way, you can estimate potential energy savings if purchasing a new system with a higher SEER rating. There are three main resources for determining the SEER rating of your current system:
- Outdoor Condenser Unit
- Air Handler
- HVAC Manufacturer
You should be able to spot a large yellow sticker that has the SEER rating written on it. If not, you can get this rating from your system’s manufacturer as long as you have the model number and serial number for your current cooling system.
The Main Benefits of a High SEER Rating
Probably the most sought-after benefit of purchasing a cooling system with a high SEER rating is that it’s super energy-efficient. You can enjoy spending less money on energy bills to get the same amount of cold air produced. This also means that you’ll enjoy more comfort inside of your home.
Systems with a high SEER rating tend to have two key comfort features, which are a variable-speed blower and variable-speed compressor. In traditional single-stage cooling systems, it’s not uncommon for them to constantly turn on and off during mild weather. This will result in uneven household heating. Additionally, when humidity levels get high, they won’t run long enough to remove excess humidity from your air. This can leave your home hot and uncomfortable.
Fortunately, the variable-speed components help to allow your cooling system to run adequately to remove excess humidity from the air. Your cooling system will run one thorough cycle to ensure that you experience even cooling throughout your entire home.
Apart from great energy savings and creating a more comfortable home environment for your family, cooling systems with a high SEER rating also come along with some great tax rebates and incentives. You can easily cash in on these government incentives to help offset the cost of your new air conditioning unit. Additionally, you can feel good about reducing your carbon footprint and creating a more environmentally-friendly world for future generations.
Is a High SEER Rating Worth the Financial Investment?
While it would be nice to have the energy savings associated with a cooling system that has an extremely high SEER rating, it’s not always financially feasible. As you evaluate cooling systems, you’ll notice that the price tag will increase with the SEER rating. This will likely bring up the question of whether it’s worth investing in a high SEER rating cooling system or not.
In reality, the answer to this question boils down to the environment you live in. If you live in a location with a mild climate, you likely don’t have many issues with humidity. Purchasing a system with a lower SEER rating can still provide you with adequate energy savings and a much lower price tag. Since savings are based on a portion of energy you use, the more you use your system, the more you’ll save relative to the cost of a lower SEER unit.
If you live in an area that typically experiences high humidity levels, you’ll likely want to consider an air conditioning system with a high SEER rating. This is because their variable-speed cooling will drastically reduce your indoor humidity level and make your home more comfortable throughout the hot season. Higher rated SEER cooling units are also a good idea for homeowners who have issues with uneven cooling.
Excellent Cooling Services
Sano Heating & Air Conditioning offers excellent cooling services for the Orange, CA region. We’re also available for all of your heating, indoor air quality, air purification, zoning system, sheet metal, and ducting needs. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment with one of our highly experienced service technicians.