Friday, March 23, 2007

What does SEER mean and what type of SEER should you be looking for?


First of all, a SEER is a rating used to tell the efficiency of an air conditioner or the cooling side of a heat pump. SEER is simply an acronym for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The higher the number, the more efficient the machine is. The SEER rating is often found on a yellow sticker (similar to the photo) attached to newly installed condensers.

The federal standards have changed recently (January 2006) and the minimum SEER that can be manufactured is a 13 SEER. 10 SEER machines can still be installed, but they can no longer be manufactured by the companies who produce HVAC equipment. There are now machines whose efficiencies can reach up to 23 SEER! Just because the label on a unit says “high efficiency” does not mean that this is true. 15 SEER or above is considered “high efficiency”. 13 and 14 SEER machines are fairly average, while anything below 13 SEER is heading toward “inefficient.” Make sure that you find out the SEER of the HVAC machine that your contractor will be installing for your home. Using a lower SEER can cost you a lot of money during those hot summer months.

So here is the breakdown for all of the technical, mathematical types (courtesy of wikipedia)…

The SEER rating is the Btu of cooling output during a simulated, typical cooling-season divided by the total electric energy input in watt-hours (W•h) during the same period.

SEER = BTU ÷ W•h


For example, a 5000 Btu/h air-conditioning unit, with a SEER of 10, operating for a total of 1000 hours during an annual cooling season (e.g., 8 hours per day for 125 days) would provide an annual total cooling output of:

5000 Btu/h × 1000 h = 5,000,000 Btu


With a SEER of 10, the annual electrical energy usage would be about:

5,000,000 Btu ÷ 10 = 500,000 W•h

This is equivalent to an average power usage during the cooling season of:

500,000 W•h ÷ 1000 h = 500 W

The average power usage may also be calculated more simply by:

Average power = (Btu/h) ÷ (SEER, Btu/W•h) = 5000 ÷ 10 = 500 W


Whether you are a technical type or a “big picture” type of person, making sure that your air conditioner or heat pump has at least a 13 SEER rating can save you quite a bit of money in our hot humid Louisiana climate. THIS PART IS VERY IMPORTANT: BOTH THE INDOOR & OUTDOOR EQUIPMENT MUST BE MATCHED IN ORDER TO RECEIVE THE RATED SEER.

Keep your eyes open for those yellow stickers!

1 comment:

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