SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.
Every system (composed of an outdoor compressor bearing unit that matches with an indoor unit) is evaluated and then given an Energy Efficiency Rating. This is a lot like the miles per gallon rating that your car gets, but instead of gasoline it is a number that is used to calculate your energy savings. The more cooling/heating a system puts out for each unit of energy it consumes, the higher rating it will receive. The higher the efficiency rating of your system, the less energy it will consume…that means lower utility bills and less of an impact on the environment.
So shouldn’t I just go with a higher SEER value?
At first glance you would think that the higher the SEER value the better, however that’s not always the case. You will definitely be saving more energy when operating a higher SEER system, but you might not be saving money overall. Typically, the higher the SEER value the higher the cost of the system (all other things being the same). There are really two determining factors for you when choosing the SEER value for your system: the length of time you plan on being in your home and your preference to be environmentally friendly. If you have the conviction to be as green as possible no matter what the cost is then you want to go with as high of a SEER value as possible. We wish everyone could choose this option. However, the reality is most people want to be environmentally friendly but must also live within a budget. The good news is that as technology advances our heating and cooling will require less and less energy.
So how do I determine which SEER value is for me?
The determining factor in finding the right SEER value for your HVAC system is how long you plan on living in your current house. Follow along with this example to understand this better:
The minimum SEER value allowed is 13. That will serve as our base. Here are the annual operational costs of an average family for various SEER levels. These values will change depending on a number of factors including your utility company and how high or low you keep your indoor temperature among other things.
13 SEER = $805.00
14 SEER = $747.50
16 SEER = $632.50
23 SEER = $448.50
Now at first glance it looks like a no-brainer. The 23 SEER system costs nearly half as much to operate as the 13 SEER system. However, the 23 SEER also costs significantly more (sometimes twice as much) as the 13 SEER system. So lets just say for the sake of the example that a 13 SEER system costs $4000 and a 23 SEER system costs $8000. You would need to be living in your home for over 11 years before you began to save money on that system. So if you are planning on living in your current home long-term then this would be a great investment for you, especially on year 11 when you start saving almost $400 a year! However, if you are living in a starter home and plan on moving in a few years, while a higher SEER system will add value to your home for resale, you might want to consider a lesser SEER value for upfront savings. Call Priority Design today to find out more at (210) 492-4426