How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
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What does the SEER rating of an air conditioner mean?
Saturday, October 6, 2018
It’s an acronym for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, and expressed as a number that typically ranges between 10 and 20; which is a ratio of the cooling output during a typical cooling-season divided by the electric energy input during the same period. Because it is a ratio, there is no unit of measure after the number; however, it could also be termed as BTU’s per watt/hour.
It is comparable to the miles-per-gallon rating for a car and, essentially, a higher SEER rating means better energy efficiency. A yellow sticker on the condenser (outside part of a/c system) is affixed at the factory stating the SEER rating of the unit. Starting in 2006, the federal government required that new residential air conditioning systems have a minimum SEER of 13. Pre-2006 systems had SEER ratings mostly between 8 and 12, with the older units being the least efficient. The current minimum SEER is 14.
A minimum SEER of 14.5 is required to garner an “ENERGY STAR” rating, and possibly qualify for a tax credit or rebate from your local utility. Window a/c units, at the other end of the spectrum, are exempt from the mandate, so their efficiency still hovers around 10.
Also see our blog post How can I find out the SEER of my air conditioner? For advice on when to replace an older system, see our blog post Is it cost-effective to replace an older, low-efficiency air conditioner system with a new high-SEER system?
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To learn more about heating and air conditioning systems, see these other blog posts:
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