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What’s a SEER?

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating

  • The performance of your cooling and heating system is determined in a large part by your HVAC equipment’s operating efficiency.
  • Each “matched system” – an outdoor compressor bearing unit that matches with an indoor unit – is tested and awarded an Energy Efficiency Rating, sort of like a miles per gallon (mpg) rating for your car.
  • The more cooling/heating a system puts out for each unit of energy it consumes, the higher rating it will receive.  The higher the efficiency rating of your system, the less energy it will consume…that means lower utility bills and less of an impact on the environment.
  • Also, utility companies will often compensate homeowners to the tune of hundreds of dollars to install high-efficiency systems.  Use our Rebate Finder to see what rebates are available to you when you install a high efficiency system.

Air Conditioning Efficiency-SEER Rating

air conditioning operating cost based on SEER ratingFor air conditioners, this metric is called a SEER rating, Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.  Higher the SEER ratings mean greater efficiency.
As of January 2006, the federal government mandates that all new central air conditioning equipment be at least SEER-13, but there is equipment available rated as high as SEER-18 and even SEER-23 .

ACDoctor urges you to install an air conditioning system that is at least SEER-16, especially if you live in the Sunbelt where air conditioning systems run most often.

Use our Cooling Calculator to see the impact on your wallet and your environmental footprint that higher SEER air conditioning can have for you.

A homeowner in Florida who installs an 16 SEER system can save $2,070 in operating costs over the lifespan of their system and will prevent nearly 30,000 pounds of Green House Gases from being released into the atmosphere, the equivalent of removing 3 cars from the road each year or planting 4 acres of forest.

*Assumes 2,985 cooling hours, a 16 SEER 3 ton versus a 13 SEER 3 ton unit,  electricity cost of $0.1113/kWh, & an operating life of 12 years.

Cooling Calculator

Furnace Efficiency-AFUE

Amazingly, one in four furnaces in U.S. homes today is more than 20 years old and should be replaced with new high-efficiency systems.

The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) is the most widely used measure of a furnace’s efficiency.  This is the measurement of the percentage of heat delivered to your house from each unit of fuel.

Standard systems might have an AFUE of 80%, which means the furnace converts 80% of the fuel it burns in to heat for your home while the other 20% is lost out of a chimney.

High-efficiency furnaces can be over 95% AFUE.

Heating Calculator

Heat Pumps’ Efficiency-HSPF

Air Source Heat Pumps, often used in moderate climates to heat and cool a home, are rated by a Heating and Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF)

Heat Pumps use the difference between outdoor and indoor air temperatures to cool and heat your home much like standard air conditioners do.  The difference is that Heat Pumps can cycle in both directions and can therefore provide cooling in the summer months and heating in the winter.

High efficiency Heat Pumps have a higher Heating and Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) and use less energy than conventional models.