SEER Rating: What Is It?

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August 20, 2019


SEER ratingComparing performance and efficiency of central air conditioners is made a lot easier if you understand the SEER rating. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. It’s a numeral prominently shown on the yellow EnergyGuide label displayed on all new A/C units. Knowing what SEER is all about helps you make informed choices when you’re considering upgrading your A/C.

By Federal law, each unit offered for sale must undergo laboratory testing to determine its SEER rating—a numeral between 13 (the standard rating) and 25. With this number, consumers can determine the energy efficiency of a specific unit, then use that data to comparison shop among similar makes and models. Here’s the basic process used to determine SEER:

  • Laboratory tests simulate actuate operating conditions through a typical cooling season.
  • The unit is operated at a constant indoor temperature in the mid-70 degrees, Fahrenheit, and an outdoor temperature varying from 60 degrees to over 100.
  • Energy consumption in watt-hours is continuously measured during testing.
  • After testing, the SEER rating is calculated as a ratio that expresses the cooling capacity of the unit in BTUs divided by the total electricity consumed. The result is the number included on the EnergyGuide sticker.
  • The higher the SEER number, the more energy efficient the unit will be in operation.

How SEER Helps You Shop

Higher energy efficiency is typically associated with lower monthly operating costs. A high SEER rating also usually means the unit integrates premium technology like a multi-stage compressor and variable speed blower. These provide more effective cooling and enhance indoor comfort, too.

Caveats To Consider

  • SEER isn’t a guarantee that you’ll always get the maximum efficiency indicated by the rating. A/C efficiency also relies on factors including adequate home insulation, sealed ductwork and other variables.
  • An A/C with a higher SEER costs more than a standard unit. Consumers must consider whether savings from improved energy efficiency will offset the higher purchase price over the expected service life of the unit.

For more about using the SEER rating to choose your new central air conditioner, contact the professionals at Hartman Brothers.

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