What is The Ideal Seer Rating For Your AC Unit?
January 29, 2021
The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) has a lot to do with the quality of your air and the price of your utility bills. So if you’re wondering what’s a good SEER rating, you should know that the number is very much tied to your budget.
Many homeowners are unaware of their current AC unit’s SEER rating and it’s only ever brought to their attention when it comes time to purchase a new unit. And because most people aren’t sure how to accurately calculate watt-tours and outputs, they reach out to the professionals like us at Precision Air & Plumbing to help guide them.
In this article, we’ll look at how SEER works, what a good rating is, and what the right answer is for you.
Seer Rating: What Is It?
SEER is a measure of the output of the air conditioner compared to the energy needed to operate. It’s calculated across the entire season as opposed to the energy needed on any given day. (This is because summer temperatures can go from mild to scalding in the blink of an eye.) It also gives the homeowner a more accurate idea of how the air conditioner will perform for them.
The Higher, the Better
More is better when it comes to a good rating. This is the general rule of thumb for SEER ratings, so if you remember nothing else, you should be looking at units that maximize efficiency. The US Department of Energy regulates minimum SEER ratings based on regions of the country though. So while the lowest SEER rating for a unit is 13 (with the standard scale going up to 21), the minimum number for the Southwestern states is at least 14.
This means that if you walked into a store in Arizona, you likely wouldn’t find an air conditioner with a SEER rating of 13, but you might find one with this rating if you walked into a store in a northern state like Michigan. Many of the older AC units were only rated at 8 or 9 though, so even a more basic model today will instantly decrease your energy consumption and carbon footprint.
When you see the SEER rating, you should know that you’re seeing the maximum number for the appliance though. For example, let’s say you bought a car with a combined 30 miles per gallon. You already know that if you’re constantly in stop-and-go traffic, you can’t necessarily count on this number because of the extra stress you’re putting on the vehicle.
An Investment for the Future
You’ll pay a little more for the most efficient AC units out there, but the results speak for themselves. Not only are you likely to save more money over time, but you’re also helping the environment and getting a more comfortable home. At Precision Air & Plumbing, we know that springing for a unit that goes above and beyond the minimum SEER rating can cause some homeowners to hesitate, but we always encourage our customers to prioritize the long-term benefits.
It’s important to have an idea of what works best for your home though before you choose based solely on the number. Just because a SEER rating is 15, doesn’t mean it’s not the right option. We’ll look at what can drag your efficiency down and how a better unit can make a difference.
What Makes for an Inefficient AC?
Age is one of the biggest factors when it comes to efficiency. Normal wear and tear can affect your numbers and inch your costs up year over year. This is especially true if you’re working with an inferior or single-stage model. The latter will use the same amount of power to cool the room if it’s 75° or 100°, while a multi-stage AC will adjust based on the environment.
If you had an older air conditioner and sky-high utility costs and you had no idea what your SEER rating was, chances are you’re going to end up with a number of around 8 or even less.
Variable blowers can also make a difference, as they can be used to conserve energy. Similar to multi-stage ACs, the unit’s fan motors can control the amount of airflow in your home. You can think of the variable blowers as a way to enhance your energy savings as opposed to rescuing the unit from inefficiency. If the AC itself still needs a lot of energy to cool off the room, the blowers will only be able to help so much.
Finally, size and installation can make a big difference. If the appliance is too small for your square footage, it will have to work harder while still coming up short. If the AC is too big, it will keep the home cool, but it will waste energy in the process. It also won’t be an even process, leaving some rooms freezing and others at tepid temperatures.
Tips for Improving Efficiency
Even air conditioners with a good rating for the climate can still benefit from a few energy-saving tips. For instance, keeping your thermostat closer to 80° than 70°. For every degree that you raise your thermostat, you can significantly decrease your cooling expenses.
Programmable thermostats are usually worth the money when it comes to decreasing your overall energy costs. You can optimize your energy use based on when you’re in your home and which parts of the home you’re in. For instance, when you leave your home, you can leave it at a warmer setting. Once you’re ready to come back, you can set the thermostat up to start cooling the home before you even open the door.
When the sun starts to scorch, it’s also a good time to close the blinds and shades. The less of those rays get into your home, the more your appliances can take it easy. Even an AC with a minimum SEER rating will appreciate the break.
Coming Home to Comfort
At Precision Air & Plumbing, our business was made to keep customers comfortable even when the sun starts to turn up the heat. When you’re thinking about minimizing your energy use, it helps to do so when you can stay cool, calm, and collected rather than when you’d do anything to get a break from the rays.
If you’re ready to look for an AC unit that will work with your home and daily needs, we’re here to help. Contact us today to see how we can steer you towards your perfect match.