When getting a new air conditioner replacement, boast about its SEER
No, you’re probably not going to take a picture of your new air conditioner replacement. Its looks are nothing to boast about.
So if you’re not going to boast about its good looks, then you might as well boast about its seasonal energy efficiency ratio, known for short as its SEER.
Before you think, “Those air conditioner people; they speak a foreign language,” let Charlie’s Tropic Heating & Air Conditioning explain SEER in your language: English. In the nearly 20 years that we’ve been serving the Jacksonville area, we’ve developed nearly as much skill in explaining the importance of SEER as we have expertise in properly sizing homes for new central air conditioning systems. So hold your camera and try to picture how Charlie’s explains SEER instead:
Our customer: You said you people at Charlie’s speak English. I’m counting on you. So what exactly is a SEER rating?
Charlie’s: SEER refers to the efficiency of an air conditioner.
Our customer: I can handle that. But I assume you’re itching to give me the longer explanation, too.
Charlie’s: We take our lead from the energy experts at the U.S. Department of Energy. They say that SEER is a measure of an air conditioner’s efficiency over the entire cooling season. Specifically, “it represents the total cooling of an air conditioner or heat pump (in Btu) during the normal cooling season as compared to the total electric energy input (in watt-hours) consumed during the same period.”
Our customer: So the higher the number, the better the efficiency of the air conditioner?
Charlie’s: Exactly. And the federal government isn’t kidding around. All air conditioners manufactured and sold in the United States must achieve a SEER of at least 14. (The previous minimum was 10, and many older air conditioners have SEER ratings of 6 or less.) The maximum SEER rating is 25. Put another way, today’s most efficient air conditioners use between 30 and 50 percent less energy to produce the same amount of cool air as air conditioners made in the mid1970s.
Our customer: Please don’t tell me that I have to hunt down this SEER rating on some government website.
Charlie’s: Not at all. Most air conditioners carry a yellow “Energy Guide” label that contains its SEER rating. The number also can be found near the top of the manufacturer’s label, near the model and serial number. The first two numbers tell the story. For example, an air conditioner with a model number of “15AC” has a SEER rating of 15.
Our customer: That label sounds very nice, but why do I have a feeling that the higher the SEER, the more an air conditioner is going to cost me?
Charlie’s: Because you’re a savvy consumer who knows how the world works. Yes, you’re going to pay more upfront for that efficiency, just like you would with a more fuel-efficient car. This is why it helps to adopt the long view in terms of future savings. The department of energy says that even if your air conditioner is only 10 years old, you could reduce your cooling costs by between 20 and 40 percent with a new, more energy-efficient model. And Lennox, one of the most reputable air conditioner manufacturers in the United States, has taken the time to crunch the numbers beyond that. They say the difference between an air conditioner with a 10 versus 15 SEER rating adds up to an energy savings of about 33 percent per year. Over five years, the savings add up to $540, over 10 years, $1,080 and over 15 years, $1,620.
Our customer: OK, SEER has got my attention. So those dollar savings are a guarantee?
Charlie’s: Well, not exactly. As the department of energy says, “Proper sizing and installation are key elements in determining air conditioner efficiency. Too large a unit will not adequately remove humidity. Too small a unit will not be able to attain a comfortable temperature on the hottest days.” Duct problems and a lack of insulation also can undermine your air conditioner’s efficiency. All of these contributing factors point to why you want Charlie’s Tropic Heating & Air Conditioning on the job from start to finish. And you never know. With all the knowledge and pride you’ve acquired, you just might end up taking a picture of your new air conditioner after all.