SEER is the shorthand description for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. “SEER” is defined as the unit cooling
output during a typical season divided by the total electric energy input during the same period. (Wikipedia, 2014)” In layman’s terms, the acronym simply provides an energy efficiency rating for you to go buy when purchasing a new system. The higher the number the better energy efficiency you’ll achieve. You’ll also note the price goes up considerably as the rating goes higher. Most units today run between 13and 16 but there are units out there that go up an efficiency rating of 20.
16 SEER are the most common and most affordable units. Every increase in number will increase the cost of the unit by 5-10% in most markets. You will experience better efficiency which in theory will lower your air conditioning costs but do not expect to see significant reduction in your energy costs by adding more energy efficient units. You will save money and recoup the cost of a more efficient unit over the life of the unit but you should only expect 1-2% savings on the power bill monthly. You should also note, while the unit is energy efficient, the building the unit is being installed in can have a significant impact on the amount of time your unit runs to cool the place down. That said, if you live in a home with poor insulation, increasing the SEER rating of your new unit will not keep the cold air inside.
States are starting to regulate the minimum SEER rating of units being sold. The United States Government requires manufacturers to split system units with a 13 rating minimum. States with cold weather climates will not be required to use more efficient units because homeowners won’t likely recover the cost associated with adding a more efficient unit.
I would submit if you are in a climate where the average temperature for six months of the year is 80 degrees, you should install a 14 or a 16 rated unit. Only go with higher rated units if you are planning on using the building for more than 15 years because the energy savings you realize will not offset the cost of the unit in a shorter time frame. If you are located in a colder climate, increasing the SEER of your unit will not result in cost savings.
In closing, make sure to discuss both the tonnage of your new unit along with its rating with Breeze Air, Heat and Electrical because properly selecting equipment will save you on your energy costs. Overdoing it with either item will not save you money, bigger is not always better.
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