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When you’re shopping for a new air conditioner or comparing two air conditioners, you may run across the term SEER, which is a measurement of system efficiency. Here’s what you need to know to make informed decisions about your next air conditioner or heat pump.

Understanding Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratios (SEER)

SEER stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio, which is calculated by dividing the air conditioner or heat pump’s cooling power by its typical energy usage in Watt-Hours. The higher the ratio, the more efficient the air conditioner; that is, it uses less power to provide the same amount of cooling as compared to a unit with a lower ratio.

In the United States, the minimum rating is 14 for central air conditioners installed in the Southwestern and Southeastern regions (including Florida) and 13 for air conditioners installed anywhere else in the country. Some older systems, as well as window units, may be rated lower. Most central air conditioners are rated between 15 and 20. Ductless mini-splits and multi-splits can achieve considerably higher ratings, often in the 30-40 range.

It’s important to remember that when you compare air conditioners online or in a store, you are looking at a SEER rating computed by the manufacturer based on standard conditions. The actual performance may be higher or lower depending on local conditions in your area.

Benefits of a Higher Rating

Particularly in places like Sarasota where HVAC systems get extensive use, the rule of thumb is the higher the rating, the better. Even a small increase in efficiency can make a significant difference in your utility bills. Over the lifespan of your air conditioner, those differences can add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

If you’re looking for a new air conditioner or heat pump, it’s important to work with an experienced HVAC professional to help you understand your options and interpret energy efficiency ratings based on conditions in Southwest Florida. For more information, check out our air conditioning solutions or call (941) 306-3715.

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