What is SEER?

by | Oct 29, 2015 | Blog | 0 comments

If you’re thinking about purchasing a new HVAC system, it’s important to pay attention to the SEER. Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) is a mathematical equation to determine the efficiency of the system. The EPA has mandated that the southern half of the country, including Delaware, adhere to a minimum of 14 SEER. (There are fewer total cooling hours further north so they have different requirements.)

If you compare a 14 SEER unit to a 28 SEER unit which is at the very high end of efficiency, the 28 SEER unit requires half the operating cost. In other words, the efficiency rating scales linearly. Even though the 28 SEER unit is incredibly efficient, you probably won’t see a savings over the lifespan of the equipment. Of course, this really depends on your unique use case. You’ll have to spend a bit of time figuring out whether the higher efficiency rating will end up saving you money in the long run.

There are some cases where it does make sense to use higher efficiency equipment. It’s a good idea to install a unit with a higher SEER if your house uses air conditioning very often. If it’s a summer home or a situation where the air conditioner isn’t used as often, you’ll have to weigh the cost/benefit. Is the cost of the more efficient equipment going to be offset by the long-term benefit in electricity savings? Don’t worry about figuring it out all by yourself. That’s what we’re here for.

Boulden Brothers will be able to explain what the SEER means for your particular use case. We’ll tell you how much the equipment will cost and how the price factors into the energy savings over the life of the system. We’ll help you make an educated financial decision about which efficiency would be best for your home and living patterns. Remember, a second home that’s used four weekends a year needs a different kind of unit than a primary residence that’s being cooled all summer long.

Here’s how we figure out the numbers: A three ton 36,000 BTU system divided by 14 SEER would equal to 2571 watts/hour. A three ton system divided by 16 SEER would equal to 2250 watts/hour. That’s a difference of 220 watts/hour. We can multiply that number by the cost per kilowatt in your area to figure out the annual operating savings based on how you use your system.

When it comes to gas furnaces, the math is similar but we use a different kind of calculation for efficiency. Gas furnaces don’t use SEER. We instead look at the efficiency by calculating how many BTUs are actually going into the ductwork to heat your home and how many BTUs are going out your chimney as waste. When a system is 90% efficient, for every 90 BTUs that are heating your home, 10 BTUs are going out the chimney.

If you’re weighing your options about the ideal HVAC system for your home, give Boulden Brothers a call or contact us online. We’ll walk you through the process and give you all the information you need to make an informed choice.