SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. The “size” of an air conditioner is rated in BTUs (British Thermal Units) or tons; however the “efficiency” of a system is rated in SEER. SEER is like mpg (miles per gallon) in a car; The higher the mpg in your vehicle, the less you’ll pay for gas, right? The same is true for your HVAC system – the higher your SEER is, the lower your energy bill will be.
Why does SEER matter to me?
It depends. If you have recently purchased a new HVAC system or a home with a new HVAC system, your SEER is probably at an ideal level. If you have a slightly older system with a lower SEER – like 10 or 13 – you will want to start paying attention to your energy bills and do everything you can to support your system and keep those bills low – more on that below. If you are in the market for a new system, you will want to consider the SEER as you shop around. Chances are, any new system you find will have a higher SEER than your current, outdated system but the highest possible SEER may not be the best for you – more on that below, too.
What if my current system has a low SEER?
If your system is operating with a low SEER, it is probably a bit older. Until it is time to replace the system, you want to work to keep your energy bills as low as possible. This includes keeping your HVAC system maintained so it operates efficiently, changing your filter as directed, and insulating your home. You may also want to be cognizant of how often you operate your system with doors and windows frequently opening and closing. It may also be smart to weatherstrip your windows or have your home tested for air leaks. To really save, turn your thermostat up a couple of degrees in the summer, and down a couple of degrees in the winter – you won’t notice the difference but your system will work less hard to bring you comfort. You want to be sure that your HVAC system gets as much assistance as possible to operate with the least effort it can.
Low SEER ratings and age of system are two of many aspects of your system that you should consider when deciding when to replace. When it’s time to get a new system, your SEER will increase with the latest quality and efficiency standards.
Shouldn’t I install the highest SEER air conditioner available?
In our Texan climate, 13 SEER is considered “standard” efficiency (this is the minimum efficiency that Austin Energy supports with rebates) and 16 SEER is “high efficiency.” As you can probably guess, the initial investment is higher for a 16 SEER than a 13 SEER system. However, the electricity savings will usually pay for the difference in 4-6 years. Single-speed high SEER equipment doesn’t remove humidity as well as older, lower SEER equipment, so it is important that the new air conditioner be sized properly so it runs long enough to remove humidity. New variable-speed equipment runs longer typically at a lower fan speed so that it keeps air circulating in your home and removes more humidity. Equipment with SEER ratings of 17 and higher are available, but are quite expensive and not considered economical yet. When it comes time to purchase a new system, the choice will be yours.
To consult with an expert about your HVAC system purchase OR to have routine maintenance performed on your system, call McCullough at (512) 866-9821 today!