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Back to Basics: Air Conditioner Ratings

Back to Basics: Air Conditioner Ratings

Air conditioner ratings are an essential tool when you're looking to replace your home's central cooling system. These scientific metrics measure how efficiently an A/C converts electricity into cooling. With HVAC efficiency improving exponentially in recent years, understanding air conditioner ratings is crucial in order to save energy on home cooling over the long run.

For common split-system central air conditioning systems, the most common rating is the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). To calculate the SEER number, the cooling output of a central A/C is divided by the electricity that flows into it. The higher the resulting number, the more efficient the cooling. However, higher cooling efficiency doesn't come cheap. You'll pay upfront for a high-SEER air conditioning, but in the long run you will save money on lower operating costs. Plus, a system that cools your home more efficiently and quickly will be more comfortable. In general, the hotter and longer an area's cooling season, the better sense it makes to invest in a higher-efficiency A/C or heat pump.

The federal government has minimum efficiency ratings for A/Cs and heat pumps (as well as heating systems). For a split-system central air conditioner, the SEER must be at least 13 (with the minimum at SEER 14 for a split-system heat pump). The U.S. Department of Energy and EPA require a minimum SEER of 15 before split-system A/Cs and heat pumps can qualify for the coveted Energy Star.

Only 10 or 15 years ago, a central air conditioner likely only carried a 5 or 6 SEER number. This means if an old A/C is still cooling your home, you likely could save 20-40 percent on cooling costs by upgrading to an Energy Star-qualified A/C or heat pump.

The technology that enables such high cooling efficiency levels includes variable-speed blower and air handlers motors and scroll compressors that modulate the system's level of operation. You can enhance A/C efficiency yourself by weatherproofing your home – sealing air leaks and upgrading insulation.

For help selecting an energy-efficient cooling system for your Broken Arrow-area home, please contact us at Air Assurance.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Tulsa and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). Credit/Copyright Attribution: “OpenClipart-Vectors/Pixabay”