Getting SEER-ious about Energy Efficiency and Savings - What is a SEER, why you should care, and how it can earn you money!

Like many numbers found on the big yellow Energy Guide sticker on major appliances, the SEER is a number many consumers might simply gloss right over. In most appliance purchases, the price tag and potential savings on the monthly utility bill is what seals the deal for a majority of buyers.

It’s time to familiarize yourself with one important number on that label. The SEER; what it is, how it impacts performance, and how it can truly save (and earn) you money.

What is SEER?

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. This is the ratio of the cooling output of an air conditioner over a typical cooling season, divided by the energy it uses in Watt-Hours. It may also be called a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. To keep things simple, we’ll use “rating” for our discussion here.

A SEER is calculated over an entire cooling season using a constant indoor temperature and a variety of outdoor temperatures ranging from 60 degrees to 100 plus. This is how it simulates a typical season. The final SEER reflects the unit’s maximum efficiency rating overall.

One way to think about it is as similar to maximum fuel efficiency for your car. Let’s say your vehicle is rated as getting 25 miles per gallon during highway use, however, if you find yourself stuck in stop-and-go city traffic more often, that number could drop. If your A/C unit has a 22 SEER, that represents its peak efficiency over the course of an entire cooling season. Likewise, if you raise and lower your thermostat often, your unit won’t perform at its optimum SEER efficiency.

What is the average SEER range, and what does higher or lower mean?

The average SEER range is 13 through 21 with some units going as high as 22. Most older HVAC systems have SEER in the single digits such as 8 or 9. Given this fact, newer systems with 13-15 SEER are automatically much more energy efficient than systems 15 years or older. If you must weigh budget with upgraded efficiency and monthly cost savings, there’s nothing wrong with having a unit with a SEER rating fewer than 16.

Another easy way to illustrate how it works in relation to utility savings; If you have a 14 or 16 SEER air conditioning unit, you will certainly see some monthly energy savings that translate into lower power bills. As that SEER goes up, the monthly energy savings and power bill continue to go down. If you have a 22 SEER, you’ll notice even more monthly utility savings.

The SEER serves as a numerical calculation of your system’s maximum efficiency, but does not solely govern such efficiency alone. There are other factors that can impact your system’s steady performance over the years.

  1. Out with the old, in with the new: This is probably the most obvious improvement based on our SEER discussion, so far, however modern HVAC systems, even the lowest SEER models, are exponentially more effective than older, outdated units. Yes, even those that have been well-maintained over the years.
  2. Join the fan club: Circulation is key to keeping your home evenly cool in the summer (and warm in the winter). Using inexpensive fans (stand, box, or ceiling) to assist with air flow in the home can boost the effect of even the most efficient comfort system.
  3. Crunch the numbers: The numbers on your thermostat, that is. Having the right setting can save double-digit percentage points on your utility bill. The Department of Energy reports that every degree you set your thermostat above 72 degrees equals another 3% savings in energy expenses. (Many modern systems come with smart thermostats that are programmable and accessible from your smart phone, tablet, or home computer.)
  4. Don’t get drafted: Do you have an older home with the original windows? Chances are you are losing energy efficiency through seals that have cracked or worn away completely. Inspect the weather stripping on your windows and doors and replace, as needed. Simply closing curtains and blinds can help keep cool (or warm) air from escaping needlessly.
  5. Take time to unplug: There are many a meme that poke fun at the fact that 99% of parenting is walking around turning off lights behind children. Is that an exaggeration? Perhaps, however, according to the Department of Energy, being disciplined with turning off all electronics when they’re not in use can save you up to $100 a year in energy costs.

What about that extra cash back you mentioned earlier?

Many energy providers offer cash back incentives, or energy credits, for purchasing higher SEER systems. At One Hour Heating and Air, we are well-versed on all the possible energy credit programs in your area. In some cases, you can earn up to $300 per unit.

What is the best SEER choice for me?

Bottom line, there’s no one perfect answer. The good news is that even if you buy the minimum SEER of 13, you’re coming out ahead from the system you used to have in your home. Bump it up just a few more to a 16 and you’ll notice a dramatic reduction in the cooling costs of your home. Couple this with some of today’s available tax credits and any manufacturer’s rebates, and the savings can really add up!

At One Hour Heating and Air, we are happy to provide a comprehensive consultation on the right size system for your home that will maximize performance, comfort, savings, and cash back credits. We’ve been serving your neighbors in Charlotte and the surrounding areas, including Indian Trail, Concord, and Mooresville for decades.

Our affordable financing programs can match any budget to a high-performance, top-quality comfort system. If your system is relatively new, but needs a seasonal inspection and tune-up, our highly skilled technicians are standing by for all your central air needs. If we need to do a repair, we’ll waive the trip fee!

Visit www.onehourA/C.com for our weekly and monthly specials. Call our 24/7 customer service line today (704) 703-4220.