SEER stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio. SEER is a rating that is used to rate central air conditioners. By definition, SEER indicates the relative amount of energy needed to provide a specific cooling output.
What SEER rating should I get?
The minimum SEER allowed today is 13. New residential central air conditioner standards went into effect in early 2006, before that the minimum standard was a SEER rating of 10. Air conditioners manufactured after January 26, 2006 must achieve a SEER rating of 13 or higher. SEER 13 is 30% more efficient than the previous minimum SEER rating of 10. Effective January 1, 2015 the new minimum standard is 14 SEER. This standard applies only to appliances manufactured after January 1, 2015. Equipment with a SEER rating less than 14 manufactured before this date can still be sold and installed for a limited time.
If you are looking to purchase a new unit, look for an Energy Star label with a SEER rating of 14 or more to be compliant with the most current “minimum standard”. At Just Right we highly recommend using air conditioning equipment with a higher SEER rating for greater savings. Specifically, we recommend SEER 16 and up.
Why use an HVAC system with a higher SEER rating?
Today’s best air conditioners use 30% to 50% less energy to produce the same amount of cooling as air conditioners made in the mid 1970s. Even if your air conditioner is only 10 years old, you may save 20% to 40% of your cooling energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model.
A typical 1,500 square foot home in the Tampa Bay area spends an average of $224 per month on their heating and air conditioning bill, totaling $2,688 each year. If that same homeowner were to upgrade their HVAC system to a newer, high efficiency model they would save an average of $94 each month, totaling $1,127 each year. That’s over a 40% savings! You will see from the chart below, that by year 5 you will already be getting a return on your investment, and anything above that is pure savings!
Other things to consider when buying an air conditioner
- Most manufactures have a 10 year parts warranty with registration
- A variable speed air handler for new ventilation systems
- A unit that operates quietly
- A fan-only switch, so you can use the unit for nighttime ventilation to further reduce A/C costs
- A filter check light to remind you to check the filter after a certain number of operating hours