SEER Efficiency Ratings: Making Sense of All The Numbers
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SEER Efficiency Ratings: Making Sense of All The Numbers


If you’re shopping around for a new cooling system, you may have been told to pay close attention to SEER efficiency ratings. If you don’t understand what the numbers mean, though, this won’t do you much good. To simplify your search for a high-efficiency A/C, here’s a quick guide to SEER ratings, and what you should look for.

What is SEER?
A cooling system’s seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) is a measure of its cooling output vs. the amount of energy expended to generate cool air. The more cooling that a system is able to produce per unit of energy that it consumes, the higher the SEER rating will be. Or another way of looking at it, the higher the system’s SEER, the more efficiently it will operate.

What is considered to be a “good” SEER rating?

As the minimum standard for cooling equipment in this country, a SEER rating of 13 is considered to be on the low end of the efficiency spectrum. If you’re hoping to be eligible to earn a $300 federal tax credit for energy efficiency, you’ll want to look at air conditioners with higher SEER efficiency ratings. In order to qualify for these incentives, central A/Cs and heat pumps must achieve at least a SEER 16.

How can I optimize my system’s SEER?

Without proper proper installation and maintenance, your high SEER air conditioner may not perform as expected. In order to maximize efficiency, your HVAC contractor should pay attention to:

  • Airflow – Airflow should be measure during system installations and annual tune-ups. Adequate airflow is needed to lock in SEER and to boost home comfort levels.
  • Refrigerant charge – Overcharged or undercharged refrigerant can significantly reduce efficiency. Your technician should measure charge during installs and maintenance.
  • Tight ducts – Have your home’s ducts inspected for any leaks, as this can dramatically lower system capacity.
  • Size – Unless your A/C is properly sized through a Manual J load calculation, it will experience performance and efficiency problems, whether it’s too small or too large.

For more information about SEER efficiency ratings, please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling. We serve Portland area homeowners

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