Which AC Rating Should You Use When Buying a New System?

The AC rating is an important metric to consider when comparison shopping for an air conditioner. This single numeral, known as the SEER rating (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio), provides a basis to compare the monthly operating costs of various air conditioners, as well as the relative cooling performance of the unit.

The SEER AC rating developed by the Department of Energy ranges from 13 — the current federal minimum — up to 25. Air conditioners with ratings of 14 or below are considered standard-efficiency units, and those above that level are considered high-efficiency. The higher the efficiency of a unit, the less electricity is consumed and the lower the monthly operating costs will be. In most cases, high-efficiency units with a better AC rating also incorporate technology that provides better cooling performance than standard efficiency.

Factors to Consider

The SEER rating tells you a lot about a given make and model. Still, certain exceptions and stipulations also apply. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind when shopping for the most appropriate central air conditioner:

  • High-efficiency air conditioners utilize electricity more efficiently and generally reduce the costs of operation. However, because these units utilize advanced design and components, the upfront purchase price is notably higher than a standard-efficiency (SEER 13) air conditioner.
  • During the service life of the air conditioner, monthly savings on your utility bill will eventually compensate for the higher purchase price. Therefore, the consumer must choose between upfront savings of a lower-priced, standard-efficiency air conditioner versus long-term, ongoing savings with a more expensive high-efficiency unit.
  • In addition, other factors, such as local climate and the efficiency of the house (including insulation and air sealing) play a role in the decision between a standard and a high-efficiency rating.

A professional HVAC contractor is qualified and experienced in helping you sort out these factors and make an informed buying decision that meets your expectations and budget.

For more about using the SEER AC rating when considering a new central air conditioner, contact Paitson Bros., your local source for reliable HVAC information and advice since 1922.

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