Buyers be aware! What is SEER?
According to the DOE, heating and cooling account for “about 56% of the energy used in a typical U.S. home.” This means that heating and cooling is the largest energy expense for most homes. In addition, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and their associated insulation also contribute the most to a home’s carbon footprint.
Now, in the U.S., air conditioning systems are rated using the seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER) system. SEER ratings are found by measuring the ratio of the annual British thermal unit (BTU) of cooling provided divided by the electric energy input used, measured over a range of temperatures.
Unless you’re a science geek, that may have your head spinning, but the take-home point is this: the higher the SEER rating, the better the energy performance, so the more a homeowner saves. The DOE’s established SEER rating for appliances manufactured after January 23, 2006 at 13 or higher. This minimum is 30% more efficient than those that met the previous minimum SEER of 10.
In fact, the DOE states that today’s best central air conditioners use 30% to 50% less energy to produce the same amount of cooling as do air conditioners made in the mid-1970s. So, although the average lifespan of a central air conditioner is about 15 to 20 years, homeowners may save 20% to 40% of cooling energy costs by replacing a 10-year-old model with a more efficient one.