When it comes to buying a new A/C unit, you need to consider a number of factors. While you want a unit that keeps your entire house cool, you also want one that’s energy-efficient.
In fact, one of the best parts of upgrading to a new HVAC system is that you get to take advantage of lower energy bills. Since manufacturers are always improving the energy efficiency of HVAC systems, you would likely benefit from an upgrade if your unit is more than 10 years old.
That being said, how do you get the most energy-efficient unit available? Looking at the Energy Star rating is a good starting point, but you also need to consider the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio rating. Let’s discuss what a SEER rating is and why it’s so important in regard to getting the most out of your HVAC.
What Is a SEER Rating?
The SEER rating that you see on a new A/C unit relates to the amount of energy that the unit will consume over the course of one year. Since energy costs money, many homeowners relate the SEER rating to how much money it will cost to run a particular unit for a year.
The U.S. Department of Energy requires not only that these ratings be on every A/C unit but also that new units meet a minimum efficiency. Some manufacturers go above and beyond the minimum requirements, so their units will save you the most money.
Currently, the DOE requires all new A/C units to have a SEER rating of at least 13. However, a few states require a SEER rating of at latest 14. Some of those states include North Carolina, California and Florida. What does that actually mean, though? Let’s dive deeper into the significance of these numbers.
SEER Ratings Range From 13 to 25
While all HVAC systems must have a rating of at least 13, the rating can go up to 25. The higher the rating, the more energy-efficient a unit is. On average, modern A/C units have a rating of between 15 and 18.
If you have an HVAC system that was produced before 2006, think about upgrading it. That’s the year when the DOE started requiring all manufacturers to make units with at least a 13 rating. Before that, many manufacturers were releasing HVAC units with ratings of just 6 or close to it.
High SEER Rating Equals High Upfront Cost
Alright, if the SEER rating is so important and can save you money in the long run, why doesn’t everyone just buy the unit with the highest SEER rating? The main problem is cost.
While a high SEER rating saves you money on monthly energy bills, it requires a high upfront cost. To achieve this high SEER rating, HVAC units require more advanced technology, which raises your purchase price.
For this reason, manufacturers make a range of A/C units that have various SEER ratings. This makes it easier for consumers to pick units that fall within their budgets. For example, choosing a unit with a SEER rating of 17 rather than a SEER rating of 15 could add as much as $1,000 to the unit price.
What SEER Rating Should You Aim For?
It’s true that purchasing a unit with a high SEER rating will help you pay off the purchase over time. However, not everyone can afford to put the extra money into getting a system that has a better SEER rating. That being said, what rating should the average homeowner aim for?
In general, getting an HVAC unit that has a SEER rating of between 15 and 18 is generally considered a good middle ground. These units typically provide the best balance between the upfront purchase price and annual energy savings.
Also, remember that the amount of money you save by getting a unit with a high SEER is determined by how often you run your HVAC system. For instance, if you’re in a building that requires the A/C to run 24 hours a day, you would benefit greatly from choosing a unit with a very high SEER. If you don’t run your unit that often, though, you could get away with a slightly lower rating.
How Much More Energy Efficient Is a High SEER Rating?
It’s hard to determine just how much more energy efficient a unit is over another. However, most experts say that the difference in energy efficiency between a unit with a SEER rating of 20 versus one that has a rating of 14 is about 43%. This means that the unit with a rating of 20 is roughly 43% more energy efficient than the unit with a rating of 14.
Are There Ways to Save on Purchasing an A/C Unit With a High SEER?
While units with a high SEER rating cost more, there are some ways to lower the cost. One is to look for federal tax credits. The government often offers tax credits to individuals who buy things that are energy efficient. This includes energy-efficient HVAC systems.
The requirements for these tax credits change from time to time, so it’s essential to keep up with all of the current regulations. To qualify for these credits, you typically have to choose a unit that has a SEER rating of at least 16.
Don’t Base Everything Off the SEER Rating
As you can clearly see, the SEER rating for HVAC systems is very important. That said, don’t let the SEER rating be the only deciding factor when you buy a new A/C unit. For example, you should also consider the power of the air conditioner, or its British Thermal Units. The higher the BTUs, the larger the space that the A/C unit can cool; you’ll need to consult an expert to find out the best size for your space, as oversized air conditioners can cause problems just as easily as undersized ones can.
Likewise, consider the amount of noise that the unit makes. Having an energy-efficient unit won’t mean as much if the unit makes a big racket every time it turns on. Lastly, make sure that you get a unit from a manufacturer that’s reliable. You want your A/C unit to work for years to come.
You can usually tell which manufacturers stand behind the products that they make by looking at their warranties. As such, look for a unit that has a long manufacturer warranty behind it. That will give you a little peace of mind in your big investment.
Let Us Install a New A/C Unit for You
Is it time to get a new A/C unit? If so, trust the experts at [company_name] to assist you throughout the process. We have the tools and experience to install and repair nearly any A/C unit. We have proudly served the families and businesses of Canton, Massachusetts, for years. Contact us for all of your HVAC needs.