When shopping for a new air conditioner, energy efficiency is a top priority for many homeowners. To make the best purchasing decision, it's important to understand energy efficiency ratings.
Central air conditioner energy efficiency is measured in SEER units. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. This is a measure of how well an air conditioner can cool a given space compared to the amount of electricity it uses during a typical summer cooling season.
Since 2006, federal regulations have required all residential air conditioners sold in the United States to meet at least a SEER 13 rating. ENERGY STAR qualified central air conditioners must have a minimum SEER 14 rating.
Older vintage air conditioners typically met only a SEER 8 to SEER 10 standard. If you upgrade from a SEER 9 to a SEER 14 air conditioner, you can reduce your energy consumption by 30%.
So if you buy a model with a higher SEER rating, you will save on your energy bills, right? Ah, it's not quite that simple…
Compatibility with your furnace: A central air conditioner shares components with your furnace. A blower motor distributes the cool air through the ductwork, and that blower motor is part of the furnace. When air conditioner manufacturers perform tests to determine their models' SEER ratings, they pair their products with specific furnace models.
If you purchase a new energy efficient air conditioner and connect it to an older furnace with a blower motor that's not an exact match, your system may not perform to its rated efficiency.
Plus, if you require documentation to qualify for an energy tax credit, you may not qualify due to a lack of testing data for your specific combination of furnace and air conditioner. Manufacturers perform this testing, and they only test specific combinations of their own brands. If you are making a purchasing decision based on the incentives of a rebate or tax credit, we can help you determine which models will qualify for your home.
Compatibility with the evaporator coil: The size of a component called the evaporator coil must be exactly matched to the rest of the air conditioner in order to achieve the rated SEER efficiency. This critical step is sometimes overlooked or done incorrectly.
The evaporator coil is usually mounted near the main duct leading away from the top of the furnace. When warm indoor air is blown across the coil, the coil absorbs heat. Cooled air then flows into the ductwork and water vapor condenses to remove humidity.
If the evaporator coil is not properly matched to the rest of the cooling system, it will not do this job optimally — and energy efficiency can suffer.
The air conditioner must be properly sized for your home and correctly installed. A high efficiency air conditioner sized or installed incorrectly may perform no better than an old, less efficient model.
Regular maintenance tune-ups are required in order to ensure SEER rating performance. Dirty equipment will be less efficient.
These factors are carefully considered when we prepare recommendations for a new air conditioner for your home. In addition, our installation procedures are tailored to maximize SEER rating performance.