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SEER Ratings – What do they mean?

SEER Ratings – What do they mean?

SEER Ratings – What do they mean?

If you are in the market for a new air conditioner or heat pump, you may notice is that everyone is talking about SEER ratings. What is a SEER rating? How does it affect initial cost? Can it save money on electric bills?

Here are some of the facts.

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The higher the SEER, the greater the air conditioner’s efficiency and the less energy it uses.

Most air conditioners and heat pumps installed before 2005 are 10 SEER. Since then, the minimum standard imposed by the Department of Energy is 13 SEER.

Heat pumps also have a HSPF rating. HSPF stands for Heating Season Performance Factor. It is measured differently than SEER rating but it has the same purpose. It indicates the efficiency of a heat pump.

The DOE has raised standards again in 2015. In the northern region (Indiana included), heat pumps are now required to have a SEER rating of 14 or higher and a HSPF of 8.2 or higher. The requirement for air conditioners remains at 13 SEER.

What does this mean for home and business owners? Most HVAC contractors will present a couple of different options when they submit a proposal to replace a heat pump or air conditioner. These may range from 13 SEER to 18 SEER. A good rule of thumb is that you can save approximately 6-7% in energy costs per SEER number on an air conditioner. Keep in mind that you will not save 6-7% on your total electric bill because that bill includes the cost of all the electricity consumed by your home or business.

The savings on heat pumps is harder to calculate, but it can range from 19% to 25%. For example, a 2.5 ton heat pump that is 7.7 HSPF, 13 SEER upgraded to a 9 HSPF, 15 SEER saves about 21% in energy costs.

Any proposal that you receive from a contractor for a higher SEER unit should be accompanied with an AHRI certificate showing a “matched system.” AHRI stands for Air conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute. An AHRI certificate should include an AHRI number, the model numbers of the equipment you are buying and the appropriate SEER and HSPF ratings. Just because a specific condenser or heat pump model is listed as 16 SEER doesn’t mean that it will always achieve that number. It needs to be matched with the right indoor unit to achieve the high SEER rating.

CH Mechanical has software that can calculate operating costs, energy savings, return on investment and payback years. If you would like to see how much money you could save, call us or contact us and we can show you options to upgrade your current system.

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