June 24, 2013

Air Conditioner SEER Ratings: What Do They Mean?

Discussing Air Conditioner SEER RatingAn air conditioner’s job is to keep people reasonably comfortable during those long, hot summer days. It works by driving hot, uncomfortable air out of a building, replacing it with fresh, cool air. No two air conditioning systems are exactly the same, and there is great variance between systems with respect to how efficiently they do their jobs. There are two costs associated with owning and operating an air conditioning system. One of these is the purchase price or acquisition cost of the unit. The other relates to the ongoing energy and maintenance expenses associated with keeping the system running. Over time, an air conditioner’s operating cost can far exceed its acquisition cost. For this reason, the operating efficiency rating of a new air conditioner is not something that a buyer should ignore.

In our society, buyers of air conditioning systems are not necessarily the people who pay the energy bills to run them. Building owners and landlords have a perverse incentive with respect to this issue. Since they don’t pay the daily operating costs to run the air conditioners inside their rental units, it’s in their best interest to buy cheaper, less efficient units. To remedy this situation, the federal government stepped in and created an energy efficiency scale known as the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, or SEER. Accompanying this scale was a legal mandate that all new residential air conditioning systems for sale in the U.S. had to score at least a 10.00 SEER on the scale. Future amendments to this law increased the minimum AC SEER rating to 12.00 SEER.

SEER ratings for today’s newly manufactured air conditioning systems are analogous to gas mileage ratings of automobiles. They commonly span from 12.00 SEER to 21.00 SEER. These ratings are derived by comparing the annual BTU’s of cooling power put out by these units by the amount of electric energy required to run them. The result is a SEER ratio which is calculated over a range of temperatures. The meaning of SEER comes to light when you contrast the purchase price of a new unit with the energy savings one can expect from replacing an older ac unit with it. In general, a new air conditioning system with a rating of 12.00 SEER will be twice as efficient as an older unit with a rating of 6.00 SEER. This means that the user can expect to cut their power consumption in half by using the new higher-rated unit.

In very hot climates, a home’s central air system is its largest energy drain. The benefits of upgrading to a more efficient air conditioner are real but difficult to estimate without a standard for assessing the overall operating efficiency of two dissimilar systems. Armed with good information, a homeowner can compare the return on investment offered by two competing units. Using the SEER rating model enables a homeowner to arrive at an informed opinion as to which new air conditioning system represents the best value for them.

Max Mechanical
As a BBB A+ rated air conditioning repair company in Arlington, we strive to help our customers understand all of their options when it comes to replacing their old ac units. Take the next step and contact us for more information about replacing your old air conditioning unit at
817-459-4100 or request a free estimate.

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