SEER Rating Breakdown
SEER Rating Breakdown
The past two decades have been dedicated to informing homeowners about products that increase their homes’ energy efficiency while slashing their utility bills. Homeowners now have tighter windows and doors, their foam and recycled cellulose insulation does a better job, and their ductless AC units have the highest SEER ratings available.
Ductless AC is an air conditioning unit that is not connected to ducts in your home. The outdoor unit is smaller than a typical HVAC unit. It’s often attached directly to your home instead of sitting on a concrete slab. Additionally, ductless ACs use hoses instead of ducts, which is cheaper to install.
What Is a Ductless AC?
Ductless systems don’t have the roaring sound of air being forced through echoing tubes. They cool only certain zones instead of forcing air into unoccupied rooms and wasting money. Your ductless AC is controlled with a separate remote for each room or zone unlike traditional HVAC units, which use a central thermostat.
The letters stand for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, aka the level of energy efficiency in an air conditioner. The more energy efficient the system, the less it costs to run it. These savings show up on your utility bill.
What Are SEER Ratings?
No ratings are set in stone. As new technologies are introduced, SEER ratings will increase year to year. However, looking back to see how far air conditioners and SEER ratings have come will give you an idea of just how important energy efficiency is.
The lifespan of a typical AC unit is 15-20 years. The first AC units with a SEER began with a rating of 5 to 6. The ratings improved. The next generation of units had a SEER of 10. Keep in mind that building materials at that time weren’t as tight or of the same quality that they are today. Energy efficiency therefore couldn’t be limited to only the AC unit SEER. Manufacturers weren’t required at that time to post the SEER on the unit. Homeowners could only call manufacturers to ask for the SEER.
History of SEER Ratings
Fast forward to 2006, when the Environmental Protection Agency made two mandates. One was that the SEER be posted on every AC unit. The second was that any new units were to be manufactured with a minimum SEER of 13.
In order to guarantee that standard of SEER, manufacturers had to modify their units. The compressor was made to run more efficiently, and the evaporator and condenser coils got bigger. The rising price of metal and a few other structural changes combine to make the units more expensive at the retail level.
For maximum energy savings, the Department of Energy recommends homeowners buy newer units with higher SEER for maximum energy savings which will be reflected on their utility bills.
What SEER Looks Like In 2019
New buildings with ACs installed after January 1, 2015 are required to comply with the DOE energy efficiency standards. For homes in the north, the minimum SEER is 13. For the south, the minimum SEER is 14, as it is for the southwest.
Today, the difference in savings between a SEER of 14 and more modern units with a SEER of 18 or above is phenomenal. For example, normal ratings go up to 21 while ductless systems exceed 30.
Savings Between SEER Ratings
Let’s say you have a brand new Carrier® 20 SEER air conditioner installed for $9,350. At 14 cents per kilowatt hour, you would only pay about $264 per year on your utility bill. This is the Pennsylvania kw/hr price. Each state varies.
Now take the same three ton unit at 14 SEER. You end up paying 30% more or about $377 per year. Now that’s a big deal.
Often times, the indoor air quality of your home is far worse than outdoors. That’s saying something, when you think of exhaust fumes, industrial pollution, pollen, smog, and over 200 other types of pollutants.
A Word About Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality is affected by what is blown throughout your house via the ductwork. The build-up of pollutants in these ducts adversely affects family members with asthma, COPD, allergies, and other lung diseases. Not many homeowners think of cleaning their ducts. Some people have them cleaned only once or twice during their entire ownership of their home.
Pest droppings, small rodents’ fur and droppings, dirt, dust, mold and mildew, pollen, and dozens of other pollutants are being inhaled by you and your family every day. Add to these pollutants brought in from outdoors on shoes and clothing, hair, skin, and bags and boxes we bring inside.
Filtration plays a large part in purifying the air in your home. However, even the most expensive pleated filters only catch approximately 80% of the pollutants.
Ductless ACs use hoses instead of ducts to dispense cool air throughout a house. The hoses go from the outdoor unit to the indoor unit, leaving pollutants no way of intruding into your home. Even better, ductless filters eliminate up to 99% of bacteria and viruses, allergens, and other pollutants.
Award-winning Wade Heating & Cooling has been bringing ductless expertise and specialization to the Greater Pittsburgh region since 2016. Our team of NATE-certified technicians offer a track record of excellence in installation, maintenance, and repair of all ductless products.
Wade Heating & Cooling Air Conditioning Installers
When something breaks or there’s an emergency, it’s usually after hours, in the middle of the night, and/or on a holiday. Not many repair experts are open or available. Homeowners experiencing a problem may call Wade Heating & Cooling day or night, 24/7 at: (412) 534-5615.