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Air Conditioning Efficiency Ratings

When it becomes time to replace your old air conditioner, you will need to make a few decisions about the potential new model. One thing to consider is which efficiency should be selected.

Efficiencies are reflected using a term called SEER or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The SEER rating of any air conditioner is computed by taking the cooling output during the cooling season and dividing that number by the total electrical energy it uses during the same time period. The higher the SEER rating, the less electricity your new air conditioner will use to cool your home. SEER does not have anything to do with the capacity or power of your air conditioner, only its efficiency.

If you have and old air conditioner, say from the 80s, the SEER rating when it was new was in the range of 6-8 SEER. Today, the minimum efficiency set by the government for central air conditioners is a minimum of 13 SEER. So, if you replace your 6 SEER with a 13 SEER unit you will save over 50% on the electricity your old unit would have used this summer.

Today, you can choose from a number of different models with the main difference being the efficiency. A standard model today will start at 13 SEER with 14, 15, 16, 17 and 20 SEER units being the higher efficient choices. Of course as you move up in efficiency, the unit will cost you more to purchase. Typically too, as you buy more efficiency, you will also get a quieter, more comfortable system as well.

You will need to consider a couple of things to determine the best choice for your new air conditioner. What is your budget? How long are you planning to stay in your home? Do you use your air conditioner real hard and never open windows? Do you only use the air conditioner on super hot days and open the windows up when it’s not so hot? 

My recommendation when selecting the perfect unit is look at the payback. If you are a hard user and plan on staying put for many years, the highest SEER is the best choice. If money is a consideration, you are moving soon or you really don’t use the air conditioner that much, stays with the 13 SEER.