Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating
The SEER measures air conditioning and heat pump cooling efficiency, which is calculated by the cooling output for a typical cooling season divided by the total electric energy input during the same time frame. A SEER rating is a maximum efficiency rating, similar to the miles per gallon for your car. Your car might get 28 miles per gallon on the highway, but if you’re stuck in city traffic it could be lower. If your air conditioner is 21 SEER, that’s its maximum efficiency.
A higher SEER rating means greater energy efficiency. The minimum standard SEER rating is 13 for air conditioners. Most modern air conditioners have a SEER that ranges from 13 to 21. ENERGY STAR qualified central air conditioners must have a SEER rating of 14.5 to qualify. It’s important to remember that the efficiency of your system can also depend on the size of your home, your current ductwork and other variables.
It’s tough to give a quick answer because a good SEER rating depends on several factors unique to each home including location, size and what you’re looking for in a heating and cooling system. The U.S. Department of Energy enforces minimum SEER requirements that differ by geographical region. The minimum in the Southwest and Southeast is 14 and it’s goes down to 13 in the North. A 13 or 14 SEER rating doesn’t necessarily mean a unit is inefficient. Most older A/C systems are rated at around 8 or 9, so even the lowest available SEER rated system you buy today will be much more energy efficient. Factors that will effect the overall efficiency of your HVAC system include: Higher rated SEER air conditioners cost more than lower rated SEER models, so it’s important to talk to your Trane Comfort Specialist™ and discuss what SEER rating you need to get the comfort and energy savings you want.
A higher SEER rating will mean a higher level of comfort and lower monthly energy costs, but the upfront cost of the unit will be higher. Higher SEER units tend to come with features like multi-stage cooling, which means the unit will stay on more frequently instead of starting and stopping. If you live somewhere with high humidity or if some rooms in your house are cold while others are hot, a higher SEER unit with this feature will make you much more comfortable.
If you live in a mild climate where humidity isn’t an issue, you may consider a lower SEER unit a better option as it will save you money on the installation. If you do go with a lower SEER unit, make sure you look into the minimum SEER requirements for your region. Your HVAC technician should be able to recommend a unit that meets those requirements.
Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) measures the energy efficiency of your air conditioner or heat pump as it cools at the outdoor temperature of 95°F. The higher the EER, the more efficient the system.
HSPF, or Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, measures a heat pump’s overall energy efficiency throughout the entire heating season (fall and winter). The higher the HSPF rating, the more efficient the heat pump.
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