If you're upgrading your central air conditioning system or adding a new qualifying central air conditioner this summer, take a few minutes to get to know SEER ratings. SEER measures how efficient a heating and cooling system is at cooling your home. There are different SEER requirements for heating and cooling systems, however, which one you should use depends on the climate where you live and we know Northern California gets cold and hot.
What Does SEER Rating Mean?
Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) measures how efficient an air conditioner is. The higher the SEER, the more energy-efficient the unit. Industry standards suggest that central air conditioners should have a minimum of 14 SEER. If you live in a region that has more than 100 degree days per year, it might be worth spending the extra money for 15+ SEERS. Keeping your house cool on hot days is vital to your energy-saving efforts, especially since an AC system typically accounts for nearly half of your home's electric bill (depending on the size of your home).
Higher Energy Efficiency
It's no secret that installing an air conditioner can cost a lot upfront. Consumers typically don't think about the long-term costs of their new system. If not considered, this can become a big problem in five or ten years when parts start wearing out, or repairs are needed. However, if you want to keep your monthly utility costs low, you need to make sure the AC system you install is as energy-efficient as possible. That's where the SEER rating comes in. The higher the energy efficiency rating, the better the AC system will reduce your utility bills. Although the initial investment point may be a little high, you can make up for it in savings over time. Using less energy will reduce your annual expenses, therefore making it more affordable in the long run which is helpful in these inflationary times and with higher energy prices. If you are eligible, utility companies also offer rebates on systems that are energy efficient. It's possible that you could save enough with these rebates to cover the cost of your system.
Your Budget and SEER Rating
As is usually the case in most economic decisions, your budget plays a prominent role when choosing an air conditioner for your home. Your budget will have a significant impact on the SEER rating of your AC unit. If you have a small budget at the moment, you can purchase an Air Conditioner with a SEER rating of 13. This is the lowest available standard, so that you will be buying at your most affordable price. If you have a higher budget, then it is ideal to invest in a 16+ SEER system. These HVAC systems are very efficient (which means lower utility bills), and they should pay for themselves within your first year or two of operation. Just think, if you saved even $5 per month on your electric bill, it can grow to $100-$200 per year! That's money in your pocket.
The Final Verdict
The SEER ratings were created by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help consumers find the most efficient heating and cooling units available. These ratings help you to quickly lookup how much energy a particular system will consume during its use. The values are based on the amount of BTUs, which is equivalent to the amount of energy produced or used by your unit. As you start to look at different units, you should note the BTU value so that you can compare them together easily.