SEER Ratings: So What Do They Mean, Anyway?

The Department of Energy (DOE) is responsible for setting standards for the energy efficiency of HVAC units that are manufactured and sold in the US. SEER, which stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio, is the standard employed by the DOE for air conditioning efficiency. In simple terms, SEER is the difference in energy consumed to cooled air generated. The higher the rating, the more efficient the air conditioning unit. The minimum standard is now SEER 13, with some units ranging as high as SEER 26, thanks to advancements in cooling technology.

How is the rating calculated?

SEER ratings compare the BTU’s of cooling output per hour with the watts used per hour, using an average of eight hours per day and 125 days to calculate a system’s efficiency over one cooling season.

What can affect efficiency?

Living in a high humidity climate, like the one residents of south Texas experience, can put a strain on the air conditioner’s efficiency; proper sizing is a key consideration in order to avoid improper dehumidification. Failing to maintain the unit and improper installation may affect actual operating efficiency. For instance, when installing the system, if the area around the external condenser unit is not clear and does not have proper ventilation, energy efficiency potential drops.

What can you do to ensure best efficiency?

To achieve the efficiency that SEER ratings indicate, you need to make sure that your unit is properly installed, including the ducts, and the proper amount of supply- and return-air vents, beginning with the proper size.  Regular filter changes and making sure the area around the outside unit is free of overgrowth, along with professional maintenance tasks like checking the refrigerant charge and cleaning the inside coils, are all ways to ensure that your unit achieves peak performance.

If you have questions about your existing air conditioning, a replacement or SEER ratings, contact CCAC Inc. anytime. We serve homeowners in south Texas.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Corpus Christi, Texas 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.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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    David Mathewst David Mathews is the owner of CCAC Air Conditioning and Heating. A Corpus Christi native... More »