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What is a SEER Rating? What Does It Mean?

One of the most common terms used to compare air conditioners is the SEER or SEER rating. If you are shopping for a new air conditioner for your home or business, you are probably going to come across this term. Understanding what it means will be helpful when comparing different units. So, what is a SEER rating exactly?

The Short Answer

Here’s the short answer: the SEER rating is the term used to describe the efficiency of an air conditioner. The higher the number is, the more efficient the air conditioner is. That’s the definition of SEER rating in a nutshell. But, let’s dig a little deeper to give you a better understanding.

Related: What is the Most Energy Efficient Air Conditioner?

SEER Stands For…

The acronym “SEER” stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. This ratio is the number that is listed as an air conditioner’s SEER rating. For example, the minimum SEER rating today in most geographical areas is 14 SEER. That means an air conditioner must at least meet a Season Energy Efficiency Ratio of 14. But how exactly is that number determined? Great question! Let’s get into the details.

How is the SEER Rating Calculated?

Calculating the SEER rating is pretty simple. It is calculated by dividing the cooling output of an air conditioner by the energy that was used to produce that output. So, the SEER rating reveals the amount of energy that is used to produce the average cooling output in a typical cooling season. The higher the number, the less energy that is used which equates to better efficiency.

What Does the Process Look Like?

To determine the SEER rating, an air conditioner is usually tested by keeping the indoor temperature set to the same temperature for the entire cooling season. The outdoor temperature fluctuates as it does in a typical cooling season – from cooler days to very hot days. This allows the air conditioner to face real-world factors in order to determine it’s SEER rating. Once this “cooling season” is complete, the amount of energy used to keep the indoor temperature at the target temperature is recorded. This amount of energy, measured in Watts-Hours, is divided into the air conditioner’s cooling output and the SEER rating is revealed.

Don’t quite get it yet? Don’t worry. Let’s go over an example that will help you see how SEER is calculated more clearly.

A Practical Example

Let’s break it down a little further. To put it in numbers, we will say that the cooling output is a flat 100. And let’s say that the amount of energy used is 7. If we divide 7 into 100, we get 14.28. We’ll just round that down to 14 for the simplicity of this example. So, that would equate to a SEER rating of 14. If the amount of energy used is lower, let’s say 5, then the SEER rating would be 20. As you can see, the lower amount of energy used equates to a higher SEER rating.

The Higher the SEER the Better

As you are probably starting to notice, the higher the number, the more efficient the air conditioner (or heat pump) is. In other words, a unit with a higher SEER rating is going to use less energy to produce the same amount of cooling power when compared to a unit with a lower SEER rating. This should result in money saved and lower energy bills. Who doesn’t want that?

…and the Higher the Price

As you might expect, the better something is, the more it’s going to cost. Air conditioners are no different. When shopping for a new air conditioner, you will notice that the price goes up as the SEER rating goes up. There are other factors that affect the price, but this is one of the main factors. While we don’t always like paying more, it’s important to remember that the energy and money saved with a more efficient unit could pay for the difference in price over time.

Related: How Much Does It Cost to Replace Your Air Conditioner?

I Hope This Has Helped!

Understanding SEER ratings is important because it’s a valuable piece of knowledge to have when shopping for a new air conditioner. We love to compare when we’re shopping for that new item that we want or need, and SEER ratings help us do just that! But more importantly, they are great indicators of the efficiency of different air conditioners.

I really hope this post has helped you gain a better understanding on what SEER ratings are and what they actually mean. This is valuable knowledge to have even though most of us will probably only use it a few times in our lifetimes.

If you have any questions or comments, please share them below. We’d love to hear from you!

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