When it’s time to replace your home’s central air conditioner, one of the main criteria for choosing a replacement is energy efficiency. With energy rates sure to continue rising in future years, how efficiently your A/C converts electricity into cooling will become even more important than it is now. Fortunately, air conditioner ratings are available to help you make your decision on a replacement A/C system.
For the central split-system A/Cs, the most common residential option in Greater Cleveland, the most helpful rating is SEER, aka the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The SEER number, running from 13 to 21 for split systems, reflects what you get when cooling output is divided by electrical input. The federal government has set SEER 13 as the minimum rating for split-system A/Cs (and 14 for heat pump air conditioners).
Manufacturers aren’t allowed to sell systems with SEER numbers lower than that, though even as recently as 10 or 15 years ago, central A/Cs were sold with SEER 6 and lower. If you’re replacing an old air conditioning system with one that boasts SEER 13 or higher, you can be confident your new system will use considerably less energy while delivering more effective cooling and humidity control.
To reap even greater savings, look for an Energy Star-qualified central air conditioner. To obtain the federal government’s Energy Star designation, a split-system central air conditioner or heat pump must have a SEER of 15 or higher.
It’s important to note that higher cooling efficiency doesn’t come cheap. The higher the SEER, the more your new system will cost. When making a decision on a preferable SEER level for your new central cooling system, it’s important to consider climate and other factors that determine A/C usage. In our Northeast Ohio climate, it probably doesn’t make sense to invest in the highest-SEER system. An Energy Star-qualified SEER 15 or 16 A/C should be sufficient for your home.
For help understanding air conditioner ratings, or in purchasing a new cooling system for your Cleveland-area home, please contact us at Geisel Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues. For more information about air conditioner ratings and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or give us a call at 440-345-8795.
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