SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, is one way air conditioner manufacturers measure the efficiency of a unit. It is the measurement of a central air conditioners or heat pumps usage during the cooling season.
Before the mid-1970s there was no measurement standard for air conditioner efficiency. In 1975, the Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Institute (ARI) introduced the EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) for the purpose of rating the cooling efficiency of HVAC units. However, the measurement did not take seasonal use into consideration, nor did it consider the different climate zones across the U.S. Southern and western locations, for example, typically have significantly different summer conditions than do areas in the north.
Therefore, SEER was created as an alternative to EER to better approximate the actual cooling cost of an AC unit by taking certain seasonal variables into account.
SEER is measured in much the same fashion as the miles per gallon (MPG) measurement is used to rate automobile efficiency. You know that if you drive 300 miles and consume 20 gallons of gas, then your vehicle’s fuel efficiency (MPG) is 15 miles per gallon (300 miles divided by 20 gallons). A vehicle that gets 18 MPG would be more efficient, or less costly, to operate, and a 12 MPG vehicle is less efficient (more costly) to operate. For air conditioning systems, SEER follows the same philosophy.
SEER equals the rated cooling output of an HVAC unit in BTU’s per hour divided by the rated input of energy in watts of electricity, at specific humidity, and temperature input/output conditions. For example, a central air conditioner unit with a SEER rating of 11 consumes 11 BTU/watt-hour.
The more cooling a system puts out per each unit of energy it consumes, the higher its SEER rating will be. Basically, the higher the SEER, the less energy is consumes, meaning lower utility costs and less of an effect it will have on the environment.
As of January 2006, the federal government requires that all new central air conditioner systems have a SEER rating of at least 13. However, there are systems available that are rated with a SEER of 18, and some that are even rated as high as 23 SEER. In addition, many utility companies compensate homeowners sometimes as much as hundreds of dollars for installing high-efficiency air conditioner systems.
Even though the time for air conditioner use has long since passed, if you’re thinking of replacing your heating system, it might be a good idea to consider doing the same for your cooling system. If they are both close in age, need constant repairs, or have just been acting a little out of the ordinary, it’s probably time they were updated. Replacing your systems will make them run more reliably and efficiently, while also making it more cost-efficient for you.
Paying for your new complete Nicor system replacement will also be cost-efficient with these rebate offers:
- Installing a high-efficiency furnace with an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) of 92% and a central air conditioner with a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) of 14.5, gets you a rebate of $700
- A high-efficiency furnace with an AFUE of 92% and a central air conditioner with a SEER of 16 receives $800 rebate
- A high-efficiency furnace with an AFUE of 95% and a central air conditioner with a SEER of 14.5 receives $800 rebate
- A high-efficiency furnace with an AFUE of 95% and a central air conditioner with a SEER of 16 receives $900 rebate
- A high-efficiency furnace with an AFUE of 97% and a central air conditioner with a SEER of 14.5 receives $900 rebate
- A high-efficiency furnace with an AFUE of 97% and a central air conditioner with a SEER of 16 receives $1,000 rebate