Are you tired of high energy bills during the hot summer months? Did you know that your HVAC system’s SEER rating could be the culprit? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating and cooling account for nearly half of the energy used in a typical home, with air conditioning alone accounting for 6% of all the electricity produced in the United States. That’s why understanding your HVAC system’s SEER rating is crucial for maximizing its energy efficiency and lowering your energy bills. In this beginner’s guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about HVAC SEER ratings, from what they are to how to improve them. Let’s get started!
What is a SEER Rating?
A SEER Rating is a measure of the efficiency of a heating and cooling system. It stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, and it’s an index that shows how much energy your HVAC system uses over the course of a year. Specifically, it measures how much cooling a system can produce per unit of energy consumed over the course of a typical cooling season. In other words, the higher the SEER rating of a system, the more efficient it is at cooling your home while using less energy.
SEER ratings are calculated by dividing the total cooling output of an HVAC system by the total energy it consumes in a given season. This gives an average efficiency rating for the entire cooling season, rather than just a snapshot of efficiency at a single point in time. SEER ratings typically range from 13 to 25, with higher ratings indicating greater efficiency.
It’s important to note that SEER ratings only apply to air conditioning systems, not heating systems. For heating systems, a different rating system called the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating is used to measure energy efficiency.
Why Does SEER Rating Matter?
SEER rating matters for a number of reasons, including:
- Lower Energy Bills: One of the most significant benefits of a high SEER rating is that it can lower your energy bills. Since higher SEER-rated systems are more energy-efficient, they use less energy to produce the same amount of cooling. This translates to lower monthly utility bills for homeowners and businesses.
- Environmental Impact: Lower energy consumption also means a lower carbon footprint. By choosing a high SEER-rated system, you can reduce your energy usage and help to reduce your impact on the environment.
- System Longevity: HVAC systems with higher SEER ratings often have more advanced technology and higher-quality components, which can lead to a longer system lifespan. This means less maintenance and replacement costs over time.
- Increased Comfort: Higher SEER-rated systems are often designed to provide more even cooling throughout a home or business, resulting in increased comfort levels.
- Improved Home Value: Upgrading to a high SEER-rated HVAC system can increase the resale value of your home. Potential buyers may be willing to pay more for a home with an energy-efficient HVAC system that will save them money in the long run.
What SEER Rating Should You Choose?
The SEER rating you choose will depend on several factors, including your budget, climate, and specific heating and cooling needs. In general, the higher the SEER rating, the more energy-efficient the system is. However, a higher SEER rating also means a higher upfront cost for the system.
When choosing an HVAC system, it’s important to consider your budget and how much you’re willing to spend upfront versus how much you could save on your energy bills over time. Additionally, consider your climate and how much you use your HVAC system. If you live in a mild climate or don’t use your HVAC system frequently, a lower SEER rating may be sufficient.
What is a Good SEER Rating?
Because the environment and the home will influence the SEER rating, it can be difficult to define what constitutes a good SEER rating.
For instance, someone who lives in the South would consider a SEER rating of 20 to be good, but someone who lives in the North might think a SEER rating of 15 is sufficient.
As of 2023, the Northern States will require a domestic air conditioner to have a minimum SEER rating of 14, while the Southern States will need a minimum SEER rating of 15. If a person currently owns an air conditioner, they won’t need to consider this; nevertheless, all future purchases must abide by this.
So an air conditioner with a good SEER rating will typically have a value of 14 or higher. These days, a central air conditioner’s SEER rating is typically 16, on average. However, there are models with higher energy efficiency, some of which can reach a rating of 23.
If you’re not sure what SEER rating to choose, consult with a professional HVAC service provider like Home Service Solutions. Our experienced technicians can evaluate your needs and recommend the right HVAC system with a SEER rating that fits your budget and energy efficiency needs.
Do Higher SEER-Rated Air Conditioner Units Cool Better?
Higher SEER air conditioners will generally cool more effectively, but the size of the home and the climate must also be taken into account.
However, there are two reasons why higher-rated SEER units will perform better at cooling, and these are as follows:
- Variable airflow (speed at which the air is blown)
- (Variable-speed compressor) with two stages
A lower SEER AC unit will feature a single-stage compressor rather than a 2-stage speed compressor. As a result of their going on and off in moderate weather, uneven cooling (hot and cold areas) are more common.
Additionally, because air conditioners must run continuously to remove humidity from the air, air conditioners with lower SEER ratings also experience higher humidity levels.
How Much More Efficient Is A Higher SEER Rating?
Higher SEER air conditioners are significantly more efficient than those with lower SEER ratings. The SEER rating with the lowest efficiency level is 8 and the one with the highest efficiency level is 22, which is 64%.
The efficiency boost between a high-end HVAC system and a middle-of-the-road one is about 40%.
Will The SEER Rating Be Affected By The Size Of My Home?
The SEER rating of a house depends on its square footage (living area). 20 BTUs are typically required per square foot of living area for air conditioners. Tonnage, which is how central air conditioners are rated for cooling, must be converted from BTUs.
A dwelling space will require 0.0016 tons of cooling per square foot since 1 ton is equal to 12,000 BTUs. This indicates that a cooling HVAC system for 600 square feet has to be 1 ton, whereas a system for 3,600 square feet needs to be 6 ton.
Even if an air conditioner has a high SEER rating, the living area won’t be properly cooled if it doesn’t follow this equation.
Does A Higher SEER Have More Benefits?
There are two key advantages to take into account while choosing an AC unit, and they are as follows:
- improved cooling
- lower energy costs as a result of the efficiency
Higher SEER air conditioners will give superior cooling since, as I’ve already mentioned, they will have a 2-stage speed compressor. Additionally, because they are more efficient, they won’t consume as much electricity, which will reduce an energy bill.
How to Improve Your HVAC System’s SEER Rating
If you already have an HVAC system and want to improve its SEER rating, there are several steps you can take. These include:
- Regular Maintenance: Regular maintenance is key to keeping your HVAC system running efficiently and improving its SEER rating. Make sure to schedule regular tune-ups and filter replacements with a professional HVAC service provider like Home Service Solutions. A dirty filter or clogged air ducts can reduce your system’s efficiency and increase your energy bills.
- Upgrading Your Thermostat: Upgrading to a programmable or smart thermostat can help you better control your HVAC system’s energy usage and improve its efficiency. With a programmable thermostat, you can set different temperatures for different times of the day, allowing you to reduce your energy usage when you’re not at home or during the night.
- Improving Your Insulation: Proper insulation can help keep your home or business cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, reducing the workload on your HVAC system and improving its efficiency. Check your insulation levels and consider adding insulation to areas that may be lacking.
- Sealing Air Leaks: Air leaks around windows, doors, and ducts can cause your HVAC system to work harder to maintain a comfortable temperature, reducing its efficiency. Sealing air leaks with caulking or weatherstripping can help reduce your energy bills and improve your system’s SEER rating.
- Upgrading Your HVAC System: If your HVAC system is old or inefficient, upgrading to a newer, more energy-efficient system can help improve its SEER rating and save you money on your energy bills over time. Today’s HVAC systems are much more energy-efficient than those from just a few years ago, and upgrading can lead to significant energy savings.
How Do Costs Relate to a SEER Rating?
The price of an AC unit will depend on its SEER rating. A lower SEER rating air conditioner will often be less expensive than one with a higher rating. However, it should be remembered that an air conditioner with a higher SEER rating will use up to 40% less energy, which will result in lower monthly energy costs. As a result, air conditioners with higher SEER ratings may ultimately (and to a certain extent) pay for themselves.
SEER rating and cost are closely related when it comes to HVAC systems. Generally speaking, higher SEER-rated systems will cost more upfront than lower-rated systems, but they will save you money on energy bills in the long run. Here are some key points to consider:
- Higher SEER Ratings Cost More: HVAC systems with higher SEER ratings typically cost more than those with lower ratings. This is because higher-rated systems use more advanced technology and often have higher-quality components.
- Lower Energy Bills: While higher SEER-rated systems have a higher upfront cost, they can save you money in the long run by using less energy and reducing your energy bills. Over time, the savings on energy bills can help offset the higher initial cost.
- Return on Investment (ROI): The return on investment for upgrading to a higher SEER-rated HVAC system will depend on a variety of factors, including the cost of electricity in your area, how often you use your HVAC system, and the cost of the new system. It’s important to consider these factors when deciding whether upgrading to a higher SEER-rated system is worth the investment.
- Tax Credits and Rebates: In some cases, upgrading to a higher SEER-rated HVAC system may qualify you for tax credits or rebates from your utility company. These incentives can help offset the cost of the new system and make upgrading more affordable.
What Savings Can Be Expected From a Higher SEER Rating?
Even if the rating of the units only goes up by one, the savings from having a higher SEER rating can be significant.
The new regulations that the DOE (U.S. Department of Energy) will put into place in 2023 would result in a total reduction in energy expenses for American residences with air conditioner units of between $2.5 billion and $12.2 billion between 2023 and 2052.
Over the following ten to twenty years, the typical homeowner can anticipate saving thousands of dollars.
Understanding SEER ratings is essential when choosing an HVAC system for your home or business. A higher SEER rating generally means better energy efficiency and lower energy bills over time. However, a higher SEER rating can also mean a higher upfront cost. It’s important to consider your budget.
At Home Service Solutions, we offer a wide range of HVAC services and solutions, including maintenance, repairs, and installations. Our experienced technicians can help you evaluate your HVAC system’s efficiency and recommend the best course of action to improve its SEER rating and lower your energy bills. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and start saving on your energy bills.