Understanding SEER | You don’t need a seersucker suit to stay cool

2015 air conditioning regulations

seer Wearing a seersucker suit isn’t the most fashionable way to keep cool, but men wore the all-cotton fabric for decades as an alternative for wool suits.

Seersucker suits used to be an excellent way to stay cool when air conditioning was nonexistent or more uncommon than it is today. But, you can leave your seersucker suit in the closet this summer. Learn how to choose the most efficient air conditioner for your home.

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER)

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, commonly referred to as SEER, measures the cooling efficiency of your air conditioner. It’s often compared to gas mileage. A car with a higher gas mileage runs more efficiently. Similarly, an air conditioner with a SEER rating is more efficient. However, a SEER rating is a maximum rating.

Understanding key terms will help you work with your HVAC contractor to choose the most efficient air conditioner for your home. Proper sizing of your air conditioner should only be done by a trained and certified contractor. Now keep your seersucker suit in the closet!


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7 thoughts on “Understanding SEER | You don’t need a seersucker suit to stay cool

  1. So how do I translate SEER ratings to money spent on cooling? If I know the mpg of a car I can easily figure out how much I will spend in gas each year. How do I do that for an AC using its SEER? Once I know that I can determine whether the 17 SEER unit which costs x dollars is a better buy than the 15 SEER unit that costs y dollars. If I can’t do that calculation, of what use is the SEER?

    • Great question Ron, there are several tools available to you which can assist you in understanding the cost savings, although it’s not as simple as calculating your own MPG for your vehicle!

      The US Department of Energy https://www.energy.gov/eere/femp/energy-and-cost-savings-calculators-energy-efficient-products is a user-friendly tool. In the website, you can select which type of air conditioner you have e.g. heat pump or central air conditioner. From there an excel spreadsheet will be downloaded and you can begin to input your selections (region, cost of electricity, size of your unit etc.) and it will calculate the savings for you based on an Energy Star Qualified unit.

      The second tool available and more specific to your question is an app which you can download from your mobile device for free. The app is from Emerson called “E-Saver Residential” to assist you with your calculations for specific SEER savings. This is also based on region, size of your unit, and which SEER you currently have compared to the SEER upgrade, https://climate.emerson.com/en-us/tools-resources/mobile-apps

      Both tools are available to assist you with understanding the energy savings associated with Energy Star ratings and SEER. Finally, it’s best to review with a qualified contractor to answer specific questions to your residence and area.

  2. I agree with previous comment — only your reply clarified if higher seer is better. But the reference to “proper sizing” implies a relationship to the other factors. Is a lower seer actually more efficient with a smaller unit ? What other factors should be considered?

    • The higher the SEER, the more energy-efficient the unit. The minimum efficiency for AC in the North is 13 SEER and for the South and Southwest is 14 SEER. Upgrading from a less efficient air conditioner to a more efficient AC unit you will save energy (assuming everything else stays the same e.g. 10 SEER to a 14 SEER). Forgetting about SEER for a moment, the unit should be properly sized by a licensed contractor, sizing is extremely important. A unit which is undersized will strain to reach thermostat set point where as a unit which is oversized will constantly turn on and off adversely affecting the lifecycle of the air conditioning components additionally, the unit draws the highest amps at startup. To tie it all together the higher the SEER the more efficient the unit as long as it’s properly sized.

  3. It was NOT helpful! There is no explanation of what SEER is. Just some vague gibberish. What is low and high?
    How dose it pertain to the AC? What are the key terms? How do I use this gibberish in choosing and picking what I need in in AC?

    • SEER stands for seaonsal energy efficiency ratio. The higher the number the better the effciency. So a 10seer is less efficient than a 17 see. They dont make 10 deer any more just a refrence.

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