What Does an HVAC SEER Rating Mean for Efficiency?

Posted - September 11, 2019
HVAC SEER Rating and Efficiency

According to the Department of Energy, heating and cooling represent the largest energy expense in American homes, accounting for about 48% of total energy consumption. As such, you should pay closer attention to your HVAC system if you want to reduce energy use in your Plano, Texas, home. When determining your air conditioner’s efficiency, one thing you need to consider is its SEER rating. Learn about these ratings and how to use them to calculate your energy consumption.

What Is an HVAC SEER Rating?

As the owner of an HVAC system, you’ve probably come across this term &ldquo. SEER is the acronym for “seasonal energy efficiency ratio,” which is the ratio of an air conditioner’s total cooling output to the total amount of energy it uses throughout a season. In other words, it indicates an individual HVAC unit’s energy efficiency. If your system has a high SEER rating, it means it uses less energy to cool your home, resulting in lower utility bills.

In the past, many air conditioners had a SEER rating between six and 10. However, in 2006, the Department of Energy made it mandatory for all newly installed central HVAC systems to have a minimum SEER rating of 13. Today, the average central air conditioning system comes with a rating between 15 and 18, but some models reach upward of 25.

What Is the Minimum HVAC SEER Rating in Texas?

As of January 2015, the Department of Energy imposed minimum SEER requirements for three regions of the country: North, South, and Southwest. In the South and Southwest regions, which include Texas, the minimum SEER rating is 14. Because homeowners in these regions experience hotter summers and tend to use their HVAC systems more frequently, the Department of Energy decided to raise the minimum requirement to reduce energy consumption.

How Are HVAC SEER Ratings Determined?

The Department of Energy conducts energy-efficiency tests on all HVAC units. In the tests, it’s assumed that the outdoor temperature is 82 degrees Fahrenheit, the indoor temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and indoor relative humidity is 50%. According to this rating system, a 16-SEER air conditioner consumes 60% less energy than a 10-SEER unit. However, this is only relevant if the conditions in your home are similar to those in the test.

In reality, temperatures can vary greatly from one part of the country to another. In Plano, the outdoor temperature in the summer can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is way above the temperature used to rate air conditioning systems. A higher outdoor temperature can have an impact on an HVAC unit’s rated efficiency. Other factors can affect an air conditioner’s efficiency, too, such as dirty or worn components in the system, leaky ductwork, and the quality of insulation in a home.

How to Use HVAC SEER Rating to Calculate Your Energy Use

You can use your HVAC system’s rating to calculate the amount of energy it uses and the energy cost it incurs over the course of a season. Here’s how:

For example, you have a 20,000 BTU/h unit with a 16 SEER rating that operates eight hours daily for 125 days during summer.

  • The total cooling output over the course of the season will be: 20,000 x 8 x 125 = 20,000,000 BTU.
  • Because the rating is 16, the total amount of energy consumed will be: 20,000,000 ÷ 16 = 1,250,000 Wh or 1,250 kWh.
  • If your electricity rate is 12 cents per kWh, the total cost of using your HVAC unit for the entire summer season will be: 1,250 x 0.12 = $150.

Is It Worthwhile to Get a High-SEER HVAC Unit?

An HVAC system with a high rating is typically more expensive. Although you’ll have to pay more upfront, you’ll be able to save a substantial amount of money in the long run because of the lower energy consumption.

If you want to know more about SEER ratings or would like to speak about having us install a high-SEER HVAC system, contact Advanced Home Comfort today.