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What Does Seer Have To Do With Your Air Conditioner?


When looking at getting a new air conditioner it helps to know a thing or two about them so you can make the correct purchase. One important factor you may have heard someone mention, is the term “SEER.” What does SEER mean and how is it related to your air conditioner?

Let’s start by laying out what SEER stands for: “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.”  Defined by the Air-Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigeration Institute(AHRI), SEER is the ratio of cooling output in BTUs of an air conditioner divided by the total electricity in watt-hours it consumes over a typical cooling season. The higher the SEER of the air conditioner, the more efficient the air conditioner is. SEER is determined by an entire cooling season, so it takes into account the varying temperatures across the season.

In 1992 the federal government set the minimum efficiency required for new air conditioners to 10 SEER. Then in 2005 the federal government changed that minimum to 13 SEER with the Energy Policy Act of 2005. That means that if you have an air conditioner older than 2005 you will get an efficiency boost from any new air conditioner that you install today. SEER ratings can vary from 13 for the standard efficiency air conditioners up to 20+ on the high end of the spectrum.

Is the highest SEER air conditioner always the best? The answer is yes, a higher SEER unit will be more efficient. However, while the higher SEER unit will have a higher efficiency, a properly sized unit for your home is going to matter more. You can run in to problems if your air conditioner is over sized or under sized. An oversized air conditioner can be too powerful for your home which can cool the area too quickly and turn off and on constantly, known as “short cycling”. The more often your unit is starting up the more electricity it is using. On the other hand, an under sized air conditioner won’t be able to keep up with the heat load of your home on hot days.

One last factor to consider is the price. Higher efficiency units will cost more initially but they will save you money on your electric bill. A rough estimate of the efficiency savings is 10% for each number of SEER you go up. For example, if you had an old air conditioner of 10 SEER, upgrading to a new air conditioner with a standard efficiency of 13 SEER could save around 30% of what it costs to operate.

If you’re close to the Aurora, Illinois area and would like an estimate on an air conditioner replacement, Artlip and Sons would be happy to help. Artlip and Sons can provide options for a range of air conditioners from the base efficiency to the high efficiency units. When you’re comfortable, we’re comfortable!