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What is a SEER Rating and Why Does It Matter?

When you shop for new HVAC equipment, you’ll notice several different acronyms that represent the energy efficiency of the unit. For new air conditioners, the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) chart is used to show how efficiently the unit uses energy to cool a home. Before you replace the air conditioner in your Ocean Isle Beach or Shallotte home, learn what SEER means and why it is important to your purchase.

What Does SEER Mean?

SEER is the HVAC industry acronym used to express the energy efficiency of a central air conditioner. SEER is a reflection of an air conditioner’s cooling output over the course of an average cooling season divided by the unit’s total electric energy input for the same period. It shows the cooling BTU (British Thermal Unit) to watt-hours of energy consumption.

Minimum SEER ratings for newly manufactured air conditioners are mandated by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. New central AC for use in the northern section of the United States must have a minimum of 14 SEER, while a new central air conditioner for use in the southern portion of the country must be at least 15 SEER. The minimum standards of the SEER rating chart have been regulated since 1992, starting with a minimum of 10 SEER for residential central air conditioners, and have increased over the years as standards have been adjusted.

While the SEER chart has mandated minimums, the highest SEER ratings continue to increase as air conditioning manufacturers strive to increase unit energy efficiency. The most energy-efficient central air conditioning systems available today go up to 25 SEER.

SEER Rating Chart for New Air Conditioner Purchases

When shopping for a new air conditioner, the SEER rating chart has a significant impact on the purchase decisions of many Wilmington homeowners. The energy efficiency of an air conditioner is important to buyers for a few key reasons. 

  • The more energy-efficient an air conditioner is, the less energy it uses. Therefore, cooling a home costs less with an air conditioner that is higher on the SEER rating chart than with a unit that is rated lower.
  • Air conditioners that are higher on the SEER rating chart also consume less energy than lower-rated units. This limits energy waste and the use of electrical power. A unit with a higher SEER rating is considered more environmentally friendly, which is growing in importance to homeowners as consumers look for ways to reduce the environmental impact of their households.
  • The SEER rating chart also tends to impact the price of new air conditioners. Units that are lower on the SEER rating chart, at the minimum standard, or just above are considered basic or standard models, while those with higher SEER ratings are considered more premium equipment options. To achieve higher SEER ratings, manufacturers incorporate newer energy-efficient technologies and features into these models and thus charge a higher price.

The SEER rating chart affects costs both upfront in regards to the equipment purchase price and ongoing in relation to operating costs. Buying a higher SEER air conditioner costs more upfront, but it will cost less to operate over the years than a lower SEER model. Wilmington and Calabash homeowners searching for long-term savings may choose to invest more upfront to achieve lower energy costs over the lifespan of the unit. While a lower SEER unit costs more to operate over the years, its purchase price can be much lower than a high SEER model, which many budget-conscious homeowners prefer.

Buying a New Air Conditioner for Your Ocean Isle Beach Home

When it’s time to buy a new central air conditioner for your Ocean Isle Beach or Southport home, learn how the SEER rating chart affects your choice now and in the future. A+ Heating & Cooling – Electrical offers a great selection of new air conditioning units that come with a range of SEER ratings. Our team will work with you to find the perfect balance of budget and energy efficiency – contact us today to request a free estimate.

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