Maintaining a balanced home comfort level is more complex than just hitting a few buttons on your thermostat. When it comes to making investments to improve the quality of your living space, it can be hard to balance your budget while trying to be energy efficient, all at the same time.
With summertime surfacing for the states of Kentucky and Indiana, homeowners are gearing up to make sure their AC units are in proper working order. Summers in this region of the country mean both heat and humidity, and it’s critical to be prepared. It’s important to make sure your AC unit is ready to run smoothly, all summer long.
Understanding your AC system and its SEER rating is a great place to start.
What Does SEER Stand For?
SEER stands for “seasonal energy efficiency ratio”. A SEER rating is determined by your AC unit’s average performance, or the amount of cooling it puts out per the units of energy it uses to do so. It’s important to remember that these ratings are not constant values, and should be viewed as maximum ratings of efficiency instead.
Put simply, the less energy used, the higher the SEER rating. The higher the rating, the greater the efficiency of your AC unit.
The minimum SEER rating for air conditioners begins at 13 SEER, and can reach up to 24 SEER. Understanding your system’s rating can be broken down further for better understanding:
Basic SEER 13-15: These are usually single-stage AC units. In order to be efficient, they must run on their highest setting most of the time. This means that they are probably louder than others, and may create “cold spots” in your home. It’s still a basic air conditioner, but it simply doesn’t perform to the level of a higher ranked model.
Better SEER 16-19: These models are designed to run at 65 percent capacity. This means they aren’t working quite as hard to create the same results. They are often quieter and use less energy. They cool the home evenly and are effective dehumidifiers too.
Best SEER 20-24: The best performing units are sometimes referred to as variable-capacity central air conditioning. These units can function automatically between 25 percent and 100 percent capacity to create the results you want. They are the quietest, most efficient, and best at creating a balanced temperature in your home.
Often, for AC units of higher ratings, homeowners can seek out a return on the investment put into buying a more expensive unit. Depending on the particular unit, homeowners can be eligible to receive tax credits and manufacturer rebates when purchasing a new air conditioning system.
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Locating Your SEER Rating
Understanding your SEER rating is the first step in making sure you are choosing the most energy efficient unit for your budget and your home. Now that you know what it is, the next question you may be asking is “Well, where do I find it?”
We’re glad you asked.
There are a few different ways to locate your SEER rating. The easiest way is to check your condenser unit, located outside of your home. Many newer models of just about any brand of air conditioning unit will have a large, yellow sticker, labeled “Energy Guide”, on the side that will clearly state your unit’s SEER rating, along with a few other bits of information about your unit.
If your system’s yellow sticker is no longer legible due to age, weather, or other factors, try taking a peek at your air handler. Normally, your air handler is located somewhere inside your home, most commonly found in attics or garages. The air handler should also have a sticker full of information, including the SEER rating of your unit.
If all else fails, if you are able to track down the make, model, and serial number of your air conditioner, you can always contact the manufacturer for additional information about your SEER rating. Better yet, you can locate a local, certified dealer of your specific manufacturer’s products, and give them a call.
To see if My Trusted Contractor and our HVAC techs can help you with your SEER rating, simply locate the HVAC contractor nearest you, and give them a call today.
How To Calculate Your SEER Rating
If you’re not threatened by the idea of plugging some numbers into an equation, you can calculate your SEER rating all on your own. All you need is the right information. Follow our simple, five step solution guide, and you’ll have your SEER rating in no time.
SEER ratings are measured in BTUs (British thermal units) per watt-hour of electrical energy used in a cooling season. To find your air conditioner’s BTUs, check your system’s manual, or your Energy Guide sticker we discussed earlier.
While you’re scanning your manual or Energy Guide sticker, also make a note of the watts per hour for your air conditioner. This number will be used later during the calculation process.
Once you’ve gathered your systems BTUs and number of watts per hour, it’s time to start doing the math. First, we’ll calculate for the total amount of BTUs used during a typical cooling season.
Roughly, during the late spring and summer months (May – August), there are about 125 days, or 1,000 hours.
You’ll need to multiply the number of BTUs (the number you gathered in step 1) by 1,000 in order to get the number of BTUs your system has used during the cooling season.
Calculate the number of watts per hour used by multiplying the number you found in step 2 by 1,000. This will give you the grand total of watts per hour used over the entire cooling season.
Finally, divide the total number of BTUs (the result of step 3) by the total number of watts per hour consumed (the result of step 4) to determine your SEER rating.
Knowing how to calculate SEER ratings and understanding the relationship between these numbers and energy usage can help your home stay cool, your family be more energy efficient, all while snagging savings on your monthly electric bills.
Why Your SEER Rating Makes a Difference
Let’s cut right to the chase. Will purchasing or upgrading to a system with a 17 SEER rating save you more money than a 14 SEER rating AC unit would?
Well, if we’re being honest, the answer is no, probably not. While you would see some savings between the two systems, not including what you could also earn on tax credits or rebates, it’s important to remember that the technology that goes into producing AC units with higher SEER ratings also increases their cost.
The difference? And why we believe you should invest in a system with higher SEER ratings anyway? Because of the increased comfort level for your home and family, you’ll see as a result.
Higher performing equipment results in better temperature control and regulated comfort levels. The features that come with higher quality air conditioning units, and in turn, higher SEER ratings, are not working as hard, or starting and stopping as often.
One other important component to consider is that AC units with higher SEER ratings are made with higher quality in mind, meaning they don’t need major AC repairs, replacements, saving you the cost of maintenance when compared to a system with a lower SEER rating.
Partner With A Professional
If SEER ratings and all things air conditioning related are outside your realm, or you just want a second opinion, it’s always a safe bet to contact an industry expert.
When it comes to your AC unit and your efforts in being more energy efficient, the trusted professionals at My Trusted Contractor are here to help. All of our contractors are trained, vetted, and licensed, to guarantee our customers receive the most professional and qualified service available. Connect with a contractor in your area today for more information!