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  • What is a SEER rating?
  • What does it mean for homes in Phoenix, AZ, and surrounding metro cities?
  • How do I know what the right one is for my home?

At Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing, we are often asked about SEER ratings and what a good one is for homes in Phoenix, AZ, and surrounding metro cities. The answer isn’t simple. If you’ve ever wondered what a seer rating is, this is for you. But first, let’s find out what SEER means.

What Does SEER Mean?

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, commonly known as SEER, is a common measure for an air conditioner’s cooling efficiency. It represents the cooling output over a season using a constant indoor temperature and varying outdoor temperatures from 60 to over 100 degrees divided by WATT hours’ energy consumed. The resulting rating is a number from 8-30 posted on each unit’s Energy Guide Tag. The higher the SEER rating, the more cooling efficiency you can expect.

What Is Considered a Good SEER Rating?

Now that we’ve answered what is a SEER rating, you may be wondering if a higher SEER Is better; why doesn’t everyone buy 30 SEER rated units? The truth is that there are few air conditioners on the market with a SEER rating higher than SEER-23. So, instead of asking what a good SEER rating is, ask what a good SEER rating for my home is. The highly experienced, trained, and certified technicians at Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing can help you determine that. 

A commonly held misconception is that the stated ratio is static or that a SEER-23 always performs at that efficiency. Remember, it is a ratio calculated using variable outdoor temps. That means that the rating represents the highest efficiency the unit is capable of and that the cooling efficiency can vary. You can compare it to the MPG rating on your car.

Let’s say you purchase a car that is rated for up to 28 miles per gallon. Does that mean that you can speed down the freeway, stop and start in traffic, blast your AC, and expect to drive 28 miles for every gallon of gas in your tank? It does not. It is the highest fuel efficiency you can expect. Like MPG, SEER is the highest cooling efficiency you can expect.

We know what you are thinking. Should you disregard the lower SEER-rated units? If higher is better, isn’t a 13 rated unit substandard? It may help to look at it in comparison to what you currently have. 

Modern air conditioners are built for energy efficiency. Consider how fast technology evolves and compare that to the life of a residential HVAC unit. Can you imagine using a computer for 15 years and then hesitating at buying a new one that isn’t the top of the line? The difference in performance will be like Day & Night (pun intended), so you’ll experience a drastic difference in the comfort of your home compared to your old system, even with a lower SEER air conditioner.

How To Determine the Right SEER Rating for Your Home

It goes without saying that no matter what the product, you’ll pay for performance. That means that your decision will inevitably involve evaluating cost vs. benefits. In other words, will you notice a $1,500 reduction in your utility bills with a more expensive unit? Probably not.

It can be confusing to try to determine on your own. The team at At Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing stays current on the latest training, tools, technology, and recommendations from the U.S. Department of Energy, so you don’t have to. We understand that factors like the type of home, shade around your house, roof type, and more can influence your cooling needs. Our expertise can save you time, money, and headaches. 

That being said, there are some rules of thumb or general guidance we can offer on suggested SEER ratings to target:

  • SEER-14 is good for most homes - Newer air conditioners, particularly ENERGY STAR certified ones, are designed for optimal, dependable energy efficiency. That means it costs you less to cool your home. It is understandable to listen to the argument that more is better, but it comes at more than monetary cost. You also give up some reliability as you move to the higher SEER ratings, as the technology for variable speed compressors in the higher-rated units is still evolving.
  • SEER-16 is a sufficient upgrade - If you are still skeptical about buying the lowest SEER rating, choosing a SEER-16 unit. They typically cost around $700 more than the SEER-14 air conditioners. The good news is that they are slightly more efficient at cooling without using the variable speed compressors that may not yet be as reliable as they should be.

Common Myths About SEER Ratings

There are many things you may read or hear about SEER ratings that are false, though commonly accepted. Beware of the following SEER rating myths.

1. You’ll Recoup the Entire Cost of a High SEER Unit in Energy Savings

So, will it really pay for itself over time? Let’s compare the difference in cost between a SEER-14 and a SEER-23. It could be as much as $13,000 by the time you add in the ductwork, installation, etc. Over the approximately 15 years of the expected life, you’d have to save around $72 per month in your energy costs for that math to work.

If the unit performed at peak efficiency all year round for 15 years, that might be within the realm of possibility. But keep a few things in mind:

  • Higher SEER ratings may not yet be as reliable.
  • SEER ratings measure the maximum cooling efficiency, not a constant or guaranteed efficiency.
  • The unique needs of your home may not justify the higher rating and cost.

2. You Can Simply Upgrade Your Condenser to a Higher SEER Rating 

This is simply untrue. All the components of your air conditioning system are designed to work together for optimal performance. Don’t waste your money trying to put an expensive SEER-21 condenser in a SEER-14 system. It simply doesn’t work that way.

3. Higher SEER Equals Higher Quality

Remember that SEER measures maximum cooling efficiency, not quality. The Day & Night team only recommends reputable manufacturers known for high quality, dependable products at various price points. By choosing a high-quality air conditioner, you can expect to be pleased even with lower SEER-rated units. 

Depend On Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing

Hopefully, you can breathe a little easier knowing that you have a trusted professional in your neighborhood who can help you understand what a SEER rating is and how to get the right air conditioner for your needs in Phoenix, AX, and the surrounding valley area. You don’t have to try to decode the SEER ratings on your own. When you need us, we’ll be there for you, whether you need a new air conditioner, need heater service, or have plumbing issues. Contact us today for questions or to set up an appointment to discuss your home’s needs. 

Featured Image: You Touch Pix of EuToch/Shutterstock

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