What is a SEER?
The endless demand for electricity in today’s home pushes power generators to the limit. Fortunately, technological advances have enabled us to lighten the load and potentially prevent another catastrophic black out. Central air conditioning systems play havoc on our electrical supply. These systems tend to sit idle during the cooler months but when things heat up they can push our generators to the limit.
SEER is an acronym for Seasonal Energy-Efficiency Rating and is a comparative indicator of an air conditioner’s efficiency. The rating is determined by dividing the total cooling provided during the season (in BTU) by the total energy consumed by the system (in watt-hours). The higher the rating, the more energy efficient the unit.
Shopping for a home central air conditioning system can be trying at times. Selecting energy efficiency (SEER) can wear a consumer down. Central air conditioning systems may run for hours at a time during the hot summer months, so the amount of power the system consumes is typically a major deciding factor when purchasing an air conditioner. If your existing central air conditioner is more than 10 years old, you’ll be happy to know that today’s minimum 13 SEER systems will significantly lower your electric bills during the summer months.
The typical central air-conditioning system of the early 1990s had a SEER of about 6. Today, the minimum requirement in the province of Ontario is 13 and currently the highest-efficiency models on the market in combination with a matching furnace range up to a SEER of 21. Higher SEER ratings can be achieved by manufacturers who use newer or better technology in their equipment. That’s why SEER ratings have a big influence on equipment costs and these ratings have become an important part of manufacturer and HVAC marketing programs. Another feature to consider is a single-stage unit which is either ‘on’ or ‘off,’ versus a two-stage unit which can run at two speeds. The two-stage unit will run at 80% most of the time and kick into high gear only when required. Since the unit cycles on and off less frequently, two-stage systems maintain consistent temperature.
Central air conditioners with SEER ratings over 13 are more expensive to purchase, but you will recoup the expense in lower energy costs. The decision to replace your existing air conditioning system is ultimately yours, but with current Ontario Power Authority rebates and other cost saving features offered by manufacturers, the temptation may be too good to pass.