What Exactly is SEER?
In your search for a new air conditioning system, you’ve probably run into the term “SEER” a few times. More than likely, you’re finding it in the specs and descriptions for every system you’ve looked at, so what the heck is it?
Let’s start with a definition. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is formulated through dividing the system’s cooling output (measured in BTUs, or British Thermal Units) during a typical cooling season by the input of electrical energy (measured in watt hours) during this season.
If that still sounds pretty confusing, don’t worry. SEER simply indicates how efficient a unit is. The less energy used by a unit when cooling a space down, the higher its SEER will be. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the unit.
The place you live can also affect your decision to get a high SEER A/C unit. The savings of a high SEER A/C unit located in Arizona will be much higher than the savings of a high SEER A/C system in Maine. If you live in a hotter climate, purchasing a high SEER system will be more worth it.
It’s also very important to make sure that your condenser and your air handler are appropriately matched when it comes to SEER. A mismatched system, which means that the SEER of the air handler and condenser are different, will compromise savings. If your condenser’s SEER is 20 and your air handler’s SEER is less, your condenser will not be able to perform to its full potential, and your air handler may undergo unnecessary stress.
When it comes to central systems, a good SEER rating hovers around 14, and a great SEER rating can be up to and above 20. Our 12k BTU DIY ductless mini-split achieves a 22 SEER rating. If you’ve been hanging onto your old A/C system for a while, there’s a chance that its SEER rating has diminished due to wear and tear, so it might be a good idea to switch to a higher SEER system and watch the energy savings roll in.
Hopefully the concept of the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio has been at least slightly cleared up for you. If you’re more of a visual learner, you might find this video helpful, too! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oG2-cuZQsr8.