When you are looking at air conditioners, you might see something called a SEER rating. SEER means seasonal energy efficiency ratio. It’s a number that tells you how efficient an air conditioner is while in operation. The higher the rating, the less electricity the system will consume to cool your home. Understanding SEER ratings can help you pick a good AC and save money on your electric bills.

The History Behind SEER Ratings

SEER ratings are increasingly becoming a popular topic of discussion, especially as more homeowners become environmentally conscious; however, many do not know the history of these ratings and how they came to be. The story of SEER ratings is quite interesting and shows how we have become more aware of saving energy and protecting our planet.

Back in the 1970s, people started to worry about energy. There was an energy crisis, and folks realized we could not just use up all our resources without thinking about the future. So, the U.S. government decided to step in and help make sure appliances, like air conditioners, were using energy wisely. This is when they first started talking about energy efficiency for AC units, but SEER ratings had not been created just yet.

The idea of SEER ratings came to life in 1987. Before SEER ratings, people did not have an easy way to know if one air conditioner was better at saving energy than another. The government created SEER ratings to solve this problem. They wanted to make a standard way to measure energy efficiency so that everyone could understand. So, SEER ratings were like a new language for energy efficiency in air conditioners.

At first, the minimum SEER rating was set at 10. This meant that all new air conditioners had to be at least this efficient. It was a good start, but as technology got better and people became more concerned about the environment, these standards increased. In 2006, the minimum SEER rating increased to 13. This was a big deal because it meant new air conditioners used even less energy to cool homes.

Today, the standards have gone up even more, especially in certain parts of the United States. For example, in some hot places where AC units work really hard, the minimum SEER rating is now 14 or 15. This change shows how much we have grown in understanding the importance of saving energy. Not only does a higher SEER rating mean you are using less electricity and saving money, but it also means you are doing something good for the environment.

Some may wonder why these changes matter. Well, when air conditioners use less electricity, it means we need to produce less electricity. Producing electricity often involves burning fossil fuels, which can harm the environment. By improving SEER ratings, we are cutting down on pollution and helping to fight against climate change.

Now that we have covered what SEER ratings are and the history behind them, it is time to explore some tips for understanding these ratings and choosing an air conditioner that will best suit you. Here are 10 tips to help you get it right.

1. Know How This Rating Is Actually Calculated

SEER ratings measure how much cooling an air conditioner provides compared to the amount of energy it uses over a typical cooling season. Think of it like miles per gallon in a car. The higher the miles per gallon, the more efficient the car. Similarly, the higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the air conditioner.

2. Look for the Energy Star

AC units with an Energy Star label meet strict efficiency standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These units usually have a higher SEER rating and can save you money overall. So, looking for the Energy Star can be a quick way to find efficient models.

3. Compare Costs vs. Savings

Higher SEER ratings usually mean a higher price tag. However, they can also mean lower electric bills. Try to figure out how much you might save on your bills with a higher SEER rating compared to how much more the unit costs. Sometimes, paying more upfront can save you money over time.

4. Consider Your Climate

If you think you will run your AC often, a high SEER rating is more important. If you might not use the AC as much, you will likely not need to pay extra for a high SEER rating. Think about how often you use your AC when deciding what SEER rating is best for you.

5. Understand the Minimum SEER Ratings

The government sets minimum SEER ratings to make sure all new air conditioners meet basic efficiency standards. These minimums can change, so check what the current standards are. This ensures you are looking at models that are up to date in terms of efficiency.

6. Higher SEER Means More Green

Choosing an air conditioner with a high SEER rating is not only good for your wallet, but it is also good for the planet. Efficient AC units use less energy, which means less pollution from power plants. So, by picking a unit with a higher SEER rating, you are helping the environment.

7. Size Matters

Getting the right size AC for your home is super important. Even the most efficient air conditioner will not be efficient if it is too big or too small. Make sure to have a professional help you figure out the right size before you buy.

8. Maintenance Affects Efficiency

No matter what the SEER rating is, an air conditioner needs regular maintenance to keep it running efficiently. This includes changing filters and getting professional checkups. Keeping your AC in decent shape can help it reach its SEER rating potential.

9. Look Beyond SEER

While SEER is important, it is not the only thing to consider. Look at other features like noise level, reliability and the warranty. Sometimes, an AC with a slightly lower SEER rating but better overall features might be a better choice for you.

10. Ask for Professional Advice

If you are not sure what SEER rating is best for you, ask an HVAC professional. They can help you weigh your options and pick the best AC for your home. The goal is to find a balance between efficiency, cost and comfort.

Understanding SEER ratings can seem tricky at first, but it is worth it. Knowing what SEER ratings mean can help you pick an air conditioner that is right for your home and your budget. Just remember these tips, and you will be on your way to making a smart, energy-efficient choice.

Our highly trained staff at Comfort Bros Heating, Air & Plumbing serves clients in the El Cajon, CA and surrounding areas. We offer a wide range of services in addition to HVAC to help homeowners maintain their homes, such as duct cleaning, plumbing services, and indoor air quality solutions. Give our technicians at Comfort Bros Heating, Air & Plumbing a call, and we will assist you with making sense of AC SEER ratings and help you choose a system that will best suit your home.

Meet the Author
Travis Smith
Travis Smith

Travis Smith started in his family's Heating and Air Conditioning business at 6 months and 5 days old "helping daddy do trim outs". He then worked at Sky Heating & AC for over 22 years before partnering with the Comfort Bros.
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