Given the topic’s popularity in advertising – for good reasons we’ll jump into below – most of us have heard references made to SEER in heating and cooling system promotions. A standardized measure within the HVAC industry, SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The SEER assignment helps consumers make meaningful HVAC product comparisons. Importantly, the SEER also provides the consumer with accurate data on expected home or business heating and cooling costs. Considering that climate control is generally one of the largest variable recurring expenses for a home or business owner and upfront costs for heating and cooling systems are quite significant, the SEER serves as a truly pro-consumer input. SEER is need-to-know info when shopping for a modern-day heating and cooling system.
In the most basic terms, SEER measures the amount of energy (electricity) used to cool or heat a home business. The more efficient the unit, the higher the SEER rating. SEER ratings range from 13 to 25. The United States Department of Energy (DOE) requires a minimum SEER number of 13 for units manufactured today. Thanks to technological advances, today you can find affordable HVAC systems with respectable SEER ratings around 15-18. Consumers will pay more for 20+ SEER assignments, but the upfront investment will pay off, particularly if you live in a warm and humid climate. To be certain, the DOE now requires a minimum SEER rating of 14 if you live in some southeastern and southwestern states. Understanding what drives the SEER assignment helps us see the need for higher SEER ratings in warmer, more humid climates.
SEER is a measurement of HVAC efficiency. Here’s the basic logic for said efficiency:
- Electricity is needed to operate an HVAC unit.
- The less electricity needed to operate the unit, the more efficient the unit.
- If an HVAC unit can be designed and manufactured to draw less electricity during operation, it will garner a higher SEER assignment.
But there is more to the story. Beyond the technological design of the unit, HVAC energy needs are driven by:
- air temperature
- how much of the year the unit will be needed, and at what capacity it will need to run throughout the year
So the SEER system was designed to account for energy draw, climate, typical anticipated system loads and, yes, even costs associated with standby mode. The higher minimum SEER rating for warmer climates makes sense when you consider the scope of the ratings reach.
It should be noted that there are other factors that can drive HVAC unit efficiency, including the degree of building structure insulation and, of course, the cost of electricity, which can be negotiated in some markets and by some consumer segments.
Better Technology, Better Efficiency
If you’ve ever purchased one, you know: HVAC units are not inexpensive. Thankfully, the anticipated average lifespan of 12-15 years helps to take the sting out of the upfront cost one makes for a dependable heating and cooling system. At MyHomePro, we respect the investment our customers have made in their existing heating and cooling system. Our default is never to sell an upgraded HVAC system. But there are times when a new unit is inevitable, such as when the opportunity to repair is impossible or when the costs to repair outreach the remaining useful life of the unit. To be certain, as an HVAC unit enters the last years of its useful life, the benefits to be had from a more energy efficient unit may justify making the upgrade sooner. Many consumers are surprised to learn just how much more efficient a new unit will be. And with the SEER system, they will be able to properly compare the options available to them.
The Informed Consumer is a Confident Decision Maker
HVAC purchasing doesn’t have to be daunting. Partnering with a reputable HVAC system service provider, the end user can confidently make smart HVAC decisions. If possible replacement is just one consideration, they can expect to get the most accurate information specific to their existing unit. When it comes to purchasing a new unit, they can expect to receive the most comprehensive and up-to-date information available on current HVAC options. Incorporating the SEER assignment in their decisioning rubric, the empowered HVAC buyer will understand what they are paying for and can make a confident climate control decision.