If you're in the market for a new A/C, you may have been told to read a unit's energy label and check out its SEER rating. Without actually understanding the importance of SEER, however, you may end up with a system that's not right for your home. Here's a look at what SEER is, what to look for, and how to take advantage of that information.
What is SEER?
An air conditioner's seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) describes the amount of cool air that your system can supply to your home vs. the amount of energy that it expends during the process. The higher a system's SEER, the more efficiently it will operate. As of 2006, all central cooling systems sold in the U.S. were required to have a minimum SEER of 13. Although this is a significant improvement on the performance value of air conditioners as of that time, SEER 13 should still be considered on the "lower end" of cooling efficiency. Although SEER ratings may be as high as the mid-20s, these high-SEER models are typically used in commercial buildings. A residential home generally will benefit greatly from an air conditioner with SEER ratings of 16-18.
How can I get the most out of my high SEER A/C?
Purchasing an air conditioner with a SEER of 18 doesn't guarantee high efficiency unless your system is properly installed and maintained. This is because air conditioners receive their performance ratings under controlled lab conditions. In real-world installations, certain factors must be considered if system efficiency is to be fully maximized. To get the most out of your system, be sure that your contractor considers:
- Airflow – Airflow should be measured at the time of installation and during annual maintenance. Inadequate flow can significantly reduce SEER ratings and comfort levels.
- Refrigerant charge – Your A/C's refrigerant charge should precisely match with manufacturer specifications in order to optimize efficiency.
- Tight ducts – Ducts should be evaluated for leaks that could reduce system capacity.
- Size - Manual J calculations should be used to size your system in order to achieve expected SEER performance.
To learn more about SEER ratings, contact the professionals at Hartman Brothers Heating & Air Conditioning. We proudly erve the Fort Wayne area.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in New Haven, Indiana and surrounding Fort Wayne area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about SEER ratings and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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