SEER is to your air conditioner what MPG is to your car; an efficiency rating that determines your machine’s operating costs (i.e. your energy bills).
An AC with a low SEER rating wastes electricity like a Hummer guzzles gas. Both machines are inefficient, expensive to run, and leave carbon footprints the size of craters.
However, an AC with a high SEER is efficient, uses less electricity, and drastically reduces your energy bills.
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, and indicates the relative amount of energy needed to provide a specific cooling output. It is used by the Department of Energy as a standardized measure of energy efficiency in air conditioning units.
In January 2006, a mandate was passed raising the minimum SEER from 10 to 13 on all newly manufactured air conditioners. Units manufactured before 2006, with SEERs lower than 13 can still be sold and installed.
According to the Department of Energy, SEER 13 is 30% more efficient than the previous minimum SEER of 10. That means replacing a decade old AC unit with a newer, more efficient model could save you up to 40% on your energy bills.
When shopping for a new AC, think of it as an investment. While you may save $100 or $200 on a used AC, if it has a low SEER rating, the “savings” will be lost within the first month.
Remember, a higher SEER equals a more efficient, economical machine.