Understanding Air Conditioning Energy Efficiency Ratings
You may have seen different rating acronyms when deciding on an air conditioning system. These ratings are a measure of the energy efficiency of the AC, and help you compare the efficiency between models. With your AC consuming as much as 50% of your energy, it is important to go for one with good ratings.

What does it mean to have an "energy efficiency ratings"? A primer on different air conditioning priorities and what numbers you should look for.

The 7 most important air conditioning energy efficiency ratings

SEER Explained

The SEER measures the efficiency of cooling equipment. A unit with a high SEER rating is more energy efficient.

One of the regulations passed by the U.S. Department of Energy is that, to be installed in a northern state, an air conditioning system must have at least 13 SEER. New systems installed in south states need to have a minimum rating of 14 SEER. The most efficient central air systems can have SEER ratings up to 28; heat pumps with ductless mini-split systems can have ratings as high as 30 or more.

The SEER 13 air conditioner will use 30% less power, which will translate to major savings for you.

According to the EPA, upgrading your old cooling system gives you a potentially high return on investment. You can get a machine with a SEER rating of 16 for half the cost and operate it two or three times cheaper than if you had an older one.

Learn how to read EER (energy efficiency ratio)

The EER calculation, the amount of BTUs divided by the system’s kilowatt usage, measures efficiency while a SEER rating is based on a seasonal average.

When the weather is at it's hottest, a high EER rating will provide optimal cooling and heat pump ratings may be as high as 19.

Both the SEER rating and the EER rating need to be reviewed when comparing air conditioner efficiency. The SEER rating reflects efficiency under city driving conditions, while the EER reflects efficiency under highway driving conditions.

You shouldn't base your decision on SEER and EER ratings alone, as one doesn't always mean the other.

The basics of HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor)

The HSPF is the measurement of efficiency for a heat pump system. An air source heat pump can be used to provide both cooling in summer months and heating in winter, by changing directions. SEER and EER are measurements of the coolant efficiency and HSPF measures the unit's heating efficiency.

Today's heat pumps have ratings of 8-13 on their HSPF. The higher the rating, the more efficient a unit is.

Learn how to maintain your air conditioner in order to maximize efficiency

Cleaning and servicing your air conditioner on a regular basis can help you save money on your energy consumption.

If your air filters are clogged or your vents are dirty, your system will work harder than it needs to, which means that you'll be wasting energy and risking a breakdown.


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