Do you know how efficient your air conditioning unit is? If you have an older model, you may be leaving money on the table every year that goes by without upgrading.
The efficiency of a central air conditioning unit is measured by the SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio rating. Believe it or not, understanding this rating will help you select an efficient air conditioning unit for your home.
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All About SEER Ratings
The SEER rating is the national standard for measuring the efficiency of air conditioning units. Simply put, it is a measurement of how much cooling your system puts out for each unit of energy it consumes.
It is important to note here that the SEER rating applies only to central air conditioning. Window-mounted units do not have a SEER requirement but are rated by a different metric.
Older air conditioners can have very low SEER ratings; units made before 1980 can have ratings of 6 or less. When you take into account the loss in efficiency that takes place over time, these are very inefficient. To put this into perspective, consider that a 12 SEER unit will use about half the energy of a 6 SEER unit, assuming both units are well maintained.
Recent Changes in SEER Requirements
The SEER requirements have been rising consistently over the years, due to efforts by the U.S. Department of Energy. Starting in 1992, all units were required to have a minimum of 10 SEER. In 2006, the nationwide minimum was raised to 13 SEER.
There are also regional requirements; in Louisiana, the minimum rating for new units is 14 SEER. It is important to note that this is only the minimum requirement. Depending on your particular situation, there may be a financial benefit to purchasing a higher SEER rated air conditioner.
While it is going to cost a bit more upfront, it will save you money on your utility bills over time, especially if you have a larger space to cool. It’s a good option if you’re looking for a new air conditioning unit and also want a way to lower your bills over time (& who doesn’t?)
The Benefits of Higher SEER
In addition to being more energy efficient, higher SEER units tend to have more features, such as two-stage compressors and variable speed blowers. These are common in SEER 16 and higher units. These features are not necessarily a tangible economic benefit, but it can make you substantially more comfortable on those hot summer days!
Sometimes there are even tax credits and other incentives available for these updates. This generally applies only to upgrades, and not new construction.
It is a good idea to consult with your accountant when considering any energy efficiency upgrades and find out which tax benefits may be available to you.
How to Determine the Right SEER Rating
The best way to determine what SEER rating is appropriate for your home or business is through consulting a professional installer.
They will be able to tell you exactly what types of units are recommended for your structure and situation, and what benefits you would gain from going a point or two higher than the minimum requirement.
Speaking of installers, it is important to have a reputable professional do the work for you. No matter how efficient a unit is on paper, it will lose that efficiency if not professionally, properly installed.
The installation of your air conditioning unit is almost as important as the quality of the product itself. It’s worth getting the best installation in order to get the most out of your unit!
Contact our experts at Three Rivers Services to learn more about energy efficient air conditioning units by calling (985) 892-7071.