What You Need to Know About SEER Ratings
You’ve probably seen SEER ratings on AC and heating units before. Always wondered what exactly those ratings mean? SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, indicates how efficiently an air conditioner or heat pump is able to provide home comfort. This is determined by the cooling output per season (when cooling is needed) divided by the amount of electric energy needed during that time.
SEER ratings can range greatly, with the minimum SEER being 13 for an AC unit. Older units may not meet these current standards. Typically, a newer (within the last few years) air conditioner will range in SEER from 13 to 21.
Breaking Down SEER: What Is the Right Rating?
There are plenty of articles that talk about good SEER ratings. Southland Heating and Air Conditioning knows that there is more to the picture than most people realize. California has a minimum SEER of 14 with 21 to 25 being the maximum. While most people would assume that minimum is the bare bones, least preferable option, that isn’t the case at all. More dated units tend to be at 8 SEER or so, which means that new unit with an SEER of 14 would be impressively more efficient – even being the minimum efficiency rating. Lower SEER units are also typically much more affordable and practical for moderate temperature areas.
It is also important to remember that the SEER is simply the maximum efficiency rating, which means a unit with a 21 SEER won’t always operate at the efficiency. The SEER is considered the optimal efficiency of a unit. It doesn’t mean the unit will always perform that efficiently, such as if the temperature is extremely hot outside.
What to consider when selecting a unit based on SEER:
- The weather can impact the efficiency output
- The higher the SEER, the more expensive the unit (21 SEER units may range from $2,000 to $4,000 more in total cost)
- Electricity bills can actually change once a high SEER unit is installed (14+)
- Higher SEER units can cut back on electricity usage
- SEER rating doesn’t indicate quality of a unit
- Replacement parts and repairs for higher SEER units can be more costly
In order to decide what SEER rating is best for your home cooling needs, you’ll need to provide your contractor with information about your home size, where you live (seasonal weather), what type of roof you have, how much shade you get, and more. In general, an average household in California with more moderate temperatures would benefit most from a reliable 14 SEER to 16 SEER unit. Of course, for those looking for the optimal efficiency, going up to a higher SEER is always an option, it may just mean investing more money for that efficiency.
Here at Southland Heating and Air Conditioning, we like to keep our customers informed. If you are interested in knowing more about how SEER ratings should impact your decision about a new AC unit, contact our team today.