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SEER: What is it?

June 19, 2019

While you are shopping for a new HVAC system, you have to become a quick learner of HVAC jargon. There are a lot of terms and abbreviations that you may not be familiar with. One of the most frequently asked questions about air conditioners is about SEER. What is SEER? Why is SEER important? Should I buy a system with a higher SEER?

First, let’s define what the abbreviation SEER is:

S.E.E.R. stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and it is a standard for measuring how efficient an HVAC unit is.

Brody Pennell Heating & Air Conditioning

SEER is defined by the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). It is a calculation of the total cooling capacity of an air conditioner divided by the total electric energy it is expected to use. When the ratio is higher, less electricity is used to to do the same amount of cooling. Basically, the higher the SEER, the more efficient the system, and the lower the energy bills will be. SEER ratings range from 14 – 40+.

How SEER works

You can think of SEER like miles per gallon on a car. When you are car shopping, miles per gallon is displayed prominently on the information sheet. This helps buyers gauge about how much their gasoline will cost if they drive the vehicle regularly. Similarly, Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio ratings help homeowners estimate the electric utility costs they can expect from the system.

An easy way to tell if a product has a “good” SEER is if it has an ENERGY STAR ® emblem with the product information. For example, the Carrier Infinity GreenSpeed product is not only an ENERGY STAR ® product, it is also labeled as a Most Efficient product for 2019 in the program.

Why SEER matters to your wallet

Since a heat pump or air conditioner will last you 10-15 years, homeowners should definitely take seasonal energy efficiency ratio into consideration. Products with efficiency numbers in the 30s and 40s are more expensive because they have better-performing components and controls systems that allow them to use less energy. Plus, manufacturers often back in extra comfort features and other benefits into these top-tier products.

Systems with lower SEERs will be more affordable in the beginning. But, your monthly energy bills will be pricier than if your purchase equipment with a higher rating. And since financing is an option with HVAC systems, you shouldn’t let the system cost of an air conditioner hold you back from purchasing a more efficient system. Plus, high-efficiency systems often qualify for rebates and other promotions.

The environmental impact of SEER

Did you know that air conditioning makes up the greatest piece of your energy bill? It’s true. A 2015 study by the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed that air conditioning makes up about 17% of all residential energy consumption. That’s more than anything else in your house!

Since energy usage is on the rise, and HVAC making up a huge portion of our consumption, it is critical to find ways to use less energy. Efficient cooling and heating systems can be an immense help to the environment.

In 1992 the U.S. Federal Government established the first minimum seasonal energy efficiency ratio for all units made in the USA. A lot has changed since then!

Products sold in California must be at least 14 SEER. The highest SEER products are ductless mini splits. You can purchase a ductless mini split with a SEER rating as high as 42!

Efficiency for your home

Brody Pennell can help you decipher all of the HVAC jargon. We have been providing superior heating and cooling services to the LA area for more than 70 years. And as a Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer, we are well-versed in all the different products available to you. Whether you’re looking to go completely green, or just looking to balance the cost and benefit of a higher seasonal energy efficiency ratio, Brody Pennell can help guide you. Call us today for more information!

About The Author

Brody Pennell

Since 1945, Brody Pennell Heating & Air Conditioning is the committed to helping homeowners in the greater Los Angeles area experience total home comfort. In 2021, the readers of the Los Angeles Times voted Brody Pennell the Best HVAC Company in the area.

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