The SEER rating is one of the easiest values you can use to make an apples-to-apples comparison between two air conditioning systems. This value is so prominent that many homeowners may only look at the SEER rating and cooling capacity when choosing a new air conditioner. While choosing a high SEER air conditioner can offer many efficiency advantages, how much does it matter?
As with many HVAC issues, the answer to that question can be more complex than it appears at first glance. Selecting an air conditioning system that will provide the best combination of affordability, comfort, and long-term efficiency usually isn't as straightforward as choosing the highest numeric value. This guide will help demystify the steps necessary to select an energy-efficient AC unit.
What Does SEER Tell You?
SEER stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio, and it's a slightly more complex version of the more straightforward EER. SEER gives you a rough estimate of your system's efficiency over an average summer season. While it's not crucial to know the details of this calculation, it is essential to understand that you can directly compare the SEER ratings of any two AC systems.
Using a SEER calculator can also give you a rough idea of your savings when operating more or less efficient systems. However, SEER has some limitations. This value only tells you how efficiently your air conditioner can move heat. It won't necessarily tell you the overall efficiency of your system since other factors in your home can impact your running costs.
What Doesn't SEER Tell You?
Insulation and ductwork issues are two of the most significant culprits for HVAC energy loss in any home. A poorly insulated house will rapidly equalize with the outside temperature, forcing the air conditioning system to work much harder to remove heat. Likewise, leaky or poorly insulated ductwork will lose cold air to unconditioned spaces.
The SEER rating can't account for these factors. As a result, you may not see the savings you expect by upgrading to a more efficient unit. While your new system will still move heat efficiently out of your home, it will need to work harder to keep the environment cool and comfortable. You'll still save money, but some of that extra efficiency will go to waste.
What Should You Do?
When installing a new AC system, it's best to consult with your HVAC installer before you make any choices about high vs. standard-efficiency air conditioners. Your installer can help you evaluate your home, including the condition of the ductwork and the effectiveness of your insulation. You can use this knowledge to make an informed choice about whether a high SEER system makes sense for you.
Contact a company like Vigil Air to learn more.