Shopping for a new air conditioning unit is not always as simple as it might seem. You're bound to come across a few terms you don't quite understand, one of them being SEER. This acronym stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, but since even those words don't offer much information on their own, here's a closer look at what a SEER is and how you should consider SEER when shopping for a new AC unit.
What is the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio?
Basically, each AC unit you find will be have a specific SEER advertised. The SEER is calculated by dividing the typical output for the cooling season (summer) by the total electricity the unit uses in the time frame. The less electricity a unit uses, the higher the SEER will be... so a higher SEER is an indicator that the air conditioner is more energy-efficient.
What is an ESEER?
You may also see an ESEER number listed on air conditioners you're considering buying. This is a similar indicator of energy efficiency to the SEER, but the abbreviation stands for European Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It is just calculated using metric units rather than English ones. Assuming you live in the United States, you do not have to worry about the ESEER when shopping for AC units.
What is a good SEER to look for?
SEER is expressed in the units British Thermal Units Per Watt-Hour, or BTU/Wh. You can find air conditioners with SEER ratings up to 33 BTU/Wh, but most of these are ductless systems, which are known to be the most energy-efficient. If you are looking for a standard, central AC unit, the most efficient units you'll find typically have a SEER between 21 and 25. Consider that older AC units made in the 90s often had a SEER or 8 or 9, this sounds pretty amazing! Even a new, lower-end central air conditioner typically has a SEER of at least 14, which is far more efficient than several decades ago.
Window air conditioning units are not known to be as efficient as central air systems. As a result, they always have lower SEERs. If you find one with a SEER of 10, that's good. If you find one with a SEER of 12, that's exceptional.
If energy efficiency is a goal of your AC purchase, make sure you look at the SEER before you decide which unit to buy.