AC Efficiency Rating Explained

outdoor air unit

If you’re living in the Chattanooga area, your air conditioner probably works hard in the spring and summer. With all that power usage, you might worry about the impact on your wallet. Your AC’s efficiency rating, better known as a SEER rating, can help you determine just how big of a dent your cooling usage will have on your budget. We’ll break down what a SEER score is, what rating you should be looking for, and what else you should keep in mind when evaluating the AC efficiency rating. Understanding the SEER rating is especially important when replacing your AC unit to make an informed decision about conserving energy and saving money, long term.

What is a SEER rating for HVAC Systems?

Simply put, SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. If your AC unit is working effectively and efficiently, it will consume less energy as it cools your home. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient your AC unit is.

The SEER rating is determined through testing during a typical cooling season. It’s the ratio of cooling output of the AC in a typical season divided by the total energy input during that period (watt-hours). The result is the SEER rating.

What is a good SEER rating for your AC unit?

Every state has a minimum SEER rating standard for new units. In Tennessee, the current minimum rating is 14.5 SEER for heat pumps, and 16 SEER for air conditioners.

If you own an older system (maybe older than ten years old), your rating might be as low as 8 or 10 SEER. That means your unit lags far behind the current efficiency ratings, and you’re using more energy per season than you could with an updated system.

If you’re looking to update an old or broken air conditioner, as with all HVAC decisions, you should consider a few factors about your home before making a decision about a new AC unit’s SEER rating. Consider these factors, along with the knowledge of a hot Chattanooga summer and sometimes spring:

  • Your budget
  • The size of your home
  • The size of your current AC unit
  • How long you plan on living in your home
  • How often you’ll use your new system
  • Lifetime costs and ease of maintenance

Each of these factors will help you make a decision regarding a SEER rating.

Many times, units with higher SEER ratings cost more at time of purchase. While you may be paying more upfront for a higher SEER rating, if your unit is older, you’ll be saving energy over the long run as the unit will run more efficiently than your older system.

Higher SEER units will often have additional features to improve your comfort. These units will have two components (a 2-stage/variable-speed compressor and a variable-speed blower). The advantage to this setup, as opposed to a lower-cost single-stage AC, is that your AC could run less frequently during mild weather and cool more evenly. These components also help cut the humidity.

What else do I need to know about AC efficiency ratings?

Before you make a final decision for a new AC unit and its SEER rating, keep a few things in mind. The SEER rating indicates your unit’s maximum efficiency potential. Additionally, SEER ratings are variable. A good value will often sit between 14 and 16 SEER for most homeowners.

Researching the AC unit’s average SEER operation could uncover useful information. Your 20 SEER AC might perform at an average of 14, meaning you could save money with the purchase of a lower SEER rating. The best resource to make this decision is your local HVAC specialist, who can walk you through your energy efficiency options to help you make the right choice for your needs.

Additionally, as with any new appliance purchase, look into tax credits or rebates to bring down your cost.

Air Conditioning Experts in Chattanooga

If you’re looking to purchase to a more energy efficient AC system, you’ll want expert advice as well as proper installation. The professionals at One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning can help you make an informed decision, and get your new unit up and running with no hassles. Contact our HVAC specialists today!