In the event that you’re considering the installation of a new air conditioning system, you’ve most likely come across a slew of rating acronyms on sales literature. Those abbreviations are all about the energy efficiency of the air conditioner, and they can be used to compare the efficiency of different air conditioner models. These ratings are extremely important because your HVAC system can account for as much as 50% of the total energy consumed in your home or commercial space.
It’s just that the equipment manufacturers don’t make it all that easy to figure out how to interpret those numbers, which is frustrating. To help you understand the various air conditioning energy efficiency ratings, what they mean, and what numbers to look for, here’s a primer on the subject.
You should be aware of the energy efficiency ratings for air conditioning.
SEER is an abbreviation for Seer (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio)
Energy efficiency rating (SEER) is a measure of the energy efficiency of cooling equipment that is calculated based on a seasonal average rather than specific laboratory conditions. The seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) is the ratio of cooling output in British Thermal Units (BTU) divided by electricity consumption in kilowatt-hours (kWh). This number provides you with the most accurate assessment of the unit’s efficiency over the course of the year, as determined by the manufacturer. Generally speaking, a higher SEER rating indicates that the unit is more energy efficient.
The Department of Energy requires that all new air conditioning systems installed in northern states have a minimum efficiency rating of 13 according to federal regulations. In order to be installed in the warmer southern states, new systems installed since January 2015 must have a minimum rating of 14. The most energy-efficient central air conditioning systems available today have SEER ratings ranging from 20 to 28. Heat pumps and ductless mini-split systems are capable of achieving ratings of 30 or higher in some cases.
How much money can you save by upgrading to a more energy-efficient vehicle? By upgrading from a SEER 10 to a SEER 13 air conditioner, you can save up to 30% on your energy consumption.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), every dollar invested in energy efficiency can yield a return on investment of two to three times the amount invested. In the case of equipment that is more than ten years old, upgrading to more energy-efficient equipment can pay for itself in a surprisingly short period of time. It’s possible that your older model is only rated 5 to 10. Using a newer cooling system with a SEER rating of 16 instead of an older unit with a rating of 8 saves half the money on operating costs (Energy Efficiency Ratio)
The energy efficiency ratio (EER) of an air conditioner is a measurement of the cooling output in BTUs divided by the amount of electricity consumed in kilowatts. EER ratings are calculated under specific test conditions that represent peak load during the season’s highest temperatures, as opposed to the SEER rating, which is based on a seasonal average. A higher number indicates a system that is more energy efficient.
When it comes to high-efficiency operation during the hottest months of the year, look for an EER rating greater than 11.6 and up to 16.2. Temperature ratings for heat pumps can reach as high as 19.
Energy efficiency ratings for air conditioners are similar to those for automobiles in terms of miles per gallon (MPG). Using this analogy, you can think of the SEER rating as being equivalent to the MPG for city driving, and the EER rating as being equivalent to the MPG for highway driving It is critical to examine both in order to obtain an accurate picture of the unit’s performance under various operating conditions.
Always remember that a unit with a high SEER rating will not necessarily have a high EER rating, and the opposite is true as well.
HSPF is an abbreviation for High School Physical Fitness and Fitness (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor)
The heat pump system efficiency factor (HSPF) is a measure of the efficiency of a heat pump system that provides both heat and air conditioning. Air source heat pumps have the ability to cycle in both directions, allowing them to be used to provide cooling in the summer and heating in the winter. The cooling efficiency of the unit is measured using the SEER and EER ratings, while the heating efficiency is measured using the HSPF rating.
When expressed in kilowatt-hours, the heat pump system’s heat transfer efficiency (HSPF) is the ratio of the total space heating required during the heating season in BTU divided by the total electricity used by the heat pump system during the heating season. A higher HSPF number, like the SEER and EER numbers, indicates a more energy-efficient unit. Heat pumps with high heat transfer efficiency (HSPF) ratings of at least 8 and up to 13 are available today.
Maintaining your new system is essential to ensuring that it continues to operate efficiently.
Maintaining your air conditioner on a regular basis is the simplest and most effective way to save money on its energy consumption and thus save money.
Clogged air filters, dirty vents, condensers that have accumulated grime, and worn parts all cause your system to work harder in order to produce the same cooling results, resulting in your system using more energy as a result of the increased workload. At the very least, have your system inspected, cleaned, and serviced twice per year. Not only will you save on energy costs, but you will also avoid equipment breakdowns, which can result in even greater savings.
Set up a preventative maintenance contract with a reputable air conditioning service company like Air Check Mechanical Service to get the best rates on maintenance and to ensure that you don’t forget to do it.
It’s important to shop around because not all maintenance contracts are created equal. The right provider will be able to tailor a contract to meet the specific needs of your company and its equipment.