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A Deep-Dive Into SEER

In last month’s post, “How Upgrading Your AC Unit Can Help Reduce Your Power Bill & Improve Your Air Quality,” we describe SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) for air conditioners and how the higher the SEER, the higher the energy efficiency of the unit. A higher SEER rating equates to lower monthly electricity bills. Deciding what the best SEER rating is for you is something our expert comfort consultants are more than happy to discuss. This article helps you understand what SEER rating is (with a bit of math – brace yourself!) so you can make the right decision when installing your new air conditioning system.

A Brief Overview of SEER 

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) measures how much energy — and how much money — an air conditioner uses to operate over the course of one year. The SEER rating scale ranges from 13, the minimum SEER rating required from any air conditioner, to over 20.

All of this data is collected so that the AC system has a simple number for consumers to compare to other systems in their hunt for the most reliable and efficient model. 

Before we dive into the calculations, let’s take a moment to unpack this question: is a higher SEER rating worth it?

Ultimately, yes. An AC system with a higher SEER rating will deliver better comfort while using the least amount of energy. This helps homeowners save money on their monthly bills. The highest energy-efficient AC systems have SEER ratings of 20 and up.

However, there is a catch. Air conditioners with higher SEER ratings are also more expensive upfront. It’s important to choose your new system wisely, so your monthly savings are not negated by the overall cost of the air conditioner.  

Energy-Efficiency Calculations 

In the following example, we will show you how you can compare the SEER of two AC units and see the energy savings first-hand.

What You Need: 

  1. SEER Numbers & BTUs (the size of the system) for 2+ Comparable Units 
  2. Approx. Cooling Season (how long the unit will run per day & how many days it will run in a season) 
  3. Calculator (optional)

Sample Calculation: 

12 SEER 2-ton Air Conditioner vs. 16 SEER 2-ton Air Conditioner (24,000 BTUs per Unit)

  • First, we need to determine kilowatt-hours by dividing the system BTU’s by the SEER rating:

12 SEER: 24,000 BTUs / 12 (SEER) = 2,000 kWh

16 SEER: 24,000 BTUs / 16 (SEER) = 1,500 kWh

  • Now we need to calculate costs per hour (assuming $0.305 per kWh): 

12 SEER: 2.000 X 30.5 cents per kWh = 61 (or $0.61 per kWh)

16 SEER: 1.500 X 30.5 cents per kWh = 45.75 (or $0.46 per kWh)

  • Finally, we will compare the two units’ yearly usage savings (assuming the unit will run an average of 13 hours per day for 365 days):

13 hrs per day X 365 days = 5,110 hours per year

12 SEER: 5,110 hours X $0.61 per hour = $3,117.10 per year

16 SEER: 5,110 hours X $0.46 per hour = $2,350.60 per year

So, is a higher SEER rating worth it? In the above sample, the 16 SEER air conditioner would save the owner about $766.50 per year on the energy bill!  If this does not seem to be a lot of money in comparison to the annual energy costs, remember that a properly maintained AC unit can last up to 10 years, which would result in a total savings of $7,665! 

Now that you have the calculations, check out some air conditioners, and find the best unit for your money by plugging in your own numbers. For more information on SEER comparisons or the best air conditioning installations, repairs, and maintenance in Grand Cayman, give the expert technicians at Polar Bear Air Conditioning a call today!


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