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What is SEER Rating?


Air Conditioners

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. The extra “rating” is redundant. But this acronym tells you just how awesome an air conditioner is at cooling ...

Posted by Ryan | June 28, 2022

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. The extra “rating” is redundant. But this acronym tells you just how awesome an air conditioner is at cooling your home.

The amount of money you spend on energy bills during the cooling season might be different from your neighbours. Even if you set the same indoor temperature.

That’s because air conditioners come in different SEERs, and not all of them are created equal. So what does SEER mean? And how can you make sure you’re getting the best possible performance from your AC system? Read on to find out.

Even the highest-efficiency-rated air conditioners require some maintenance and care to operate at full potential. So make sure you’re cleaning your air ducts and getting annual AC tune-ups.

What’s SEER rating, and what does it mean for air conditioners?

The SEER is a measure of how much cooling a unit can provide per watt of energy it uses. In other words, it’s a way to compare the efficiency of different air conditioners.

The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the air conditioner will be. For example, an air conditioner with a SEER of 20 will be twice as efficient as a unit with a SEER of 10. Keep in mind that SEER describes the maximum cooling efficiency. When other system inefficiencies, like leaking ducts or dirty air filters exist, your AC has trouble reaching its max potential.

SEER calculation

How is SEER calculated?

The SEER is calculated by dividing the cooling output of a unit (measured in British Thermal Units or BTUs) by the amount of energy it uses (measured in watts). Air conditioners that can do a lot of cooling (high BTUs) with less energy are more energy-efficient.

What’s a good SEER rating for an air conditioner?

Technology and government mandates are leading to more efficient air conditioners with each generation. And if you shop for a new air conditioner right now, you’ll find products with a wide range of SEERs.

Generally, higher-SEER air conditioners are more expensive. They incorporate better components, are more durable, and after all, use less energy!

If you’re installing a central air conditioner, target a model with the highest SEER rating within your budget. The minimum rating for central AC is 10, and a SEER between 14-17 is a good range to browse.

AC unit outside home

What type of SEER rating does high-efficiency AC need?

High-efficiency AC systems need a SEER of at least 12 to receive ENERGY STAR status in Canada. However, some cooling systems may require a SEER much higher than that (hospitals, for instance). The specific SEER required depends on indoor air demands and the climate where the system will be used.

Calgary cityscape at night

What SEER rating is best in the Alberta climate?

At a minimum, your home in Alberta should have a central air conditioner with a SEER of at least 14.5. Although AC systems in Canada rarely run through every season, a better SEER will affect your annual energy bills.

Alberta does experience hot daily high temperatures during the summer. AC with a SEER of 16+ will better keep up with the heat waves.

What are the benefits of having a high-efficiency AC system?

There are many benefits to having a high-efficiency AC system, most notably lower energy bills, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and improved home comfort.

A new ENERGY STAR air conditioner uses up to 40% less energy than AC equipment installed 10 years ago. SEER is the best way to estimate an air conditioner’s peak cooling efficiency.

How do I know if my AC system is high-efficiency?

Check the label on your AC unit for the SEER rating. If the rating is 12 or higher, you have a high-efficiency system. An air conditioner installed by a reputable AC technician should have a label or decal clearly displayed somewhere on the air conditioner housing.

Look for a yellow and black sticker marked with “Energy Guide.” You can also ask your HVAC contractor for more information about the efficiency of your AC system.

Label showing seasonal energy efficiency ratio

Are there any drawbacks to having a high-efficiency AC system?

The only potential drawback to a high-efficiency AC system is the initial cost. Systems that operate with better efficiency are usually more expensive than machines with a lower SEER.

But of course, you will want to consider the long-term costs of operating your air conditioner to get an accurate value measure of a pricier, more efficient unit.

Don’t you SEEr the benefits?

In general, air conditioners with higher SEER ratings are more expensive than those with lower SEER ratings. However, the extra cost is often offset by the lower energy bills that come with a more efficient unit.

If you’re considering buying a new air conditioner, be sure to ask about the unit’s SEER rating. It’s one of the best ways to ensure you’re getting a quality product that will keep you cool for years.

Action Furnace is Alberta’s leader in high-efficiency air conditioner installations for all types of budgets. Give us a call to learn more about how AC technology is making it easier to stay comfortable in an energy-conscious way.

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Written by Ryan Tutak

Ryan is considered one of Calgary's most knowledgeable residential HVAC specialists. Working in the industry for over 12 years, he's helped thousands of homeowners with their heating and cooling systems. Outside of running Calgary's most reputable HVAC business, you can find him on the Golf course practicing his short game or traveling with his family. His main goal is to create a positive collaborative culture, one in which his employees are excited to come in and are motivated to work hard. He spends the majority of his day working directly with Home Comfort Advisors, Service and Maintenance Technicians, and Customer Service Representatives ensuring they are fully prepared to lead the Home Service Industry in Customer Service.

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