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How to Select the Correct SEER Rating for Your Residential Air Conditioner

When faced with replacing the air conditioner of your Chicago area home, you will likely have to make a decision on a SEER rating for your unit. The challenge is, many don’t know what a SEER rating is let alone how it is used in selecting the best system for your home. For those experienced in such matters, you can take a pass on this blog. If, however, you would like to know what a SEER rating is, how it is determined, and how to use it in the selection of the best AC unit for your space, we encourage you to read on.

What is a SEER Rating?

SEER stands for “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio”. On a simple level, a SEER rating is used to help determine the efficiency of an air conditioning unit. How a SEER rating is tabulated is a bit more complex, however. Technically, it is the cooling output that a unit or system generates during a typical cooling-season divided by the total electric energy input it consumes during that same period. An easy way to look a SEER rating is like the MPG rating on your car. The higher the mileage rating your car has, the more efficiently it uses gas. The higher your SEER rating, at least in theory, the more efficiently your AC uses electricity to cool air. Keep in mind, when choosing a car that gets the highest mileage, you may be making sacrifices in other areas like size, comfort, and power. Likewise, there are ramifications to just choosing an air conditioner based on its SEER rating.

Other Factors to Consider

Like federal mileage standards, the government also has minimum standards on SEER ratings. While there are variables according to region and size of the system, the minimum federal SEER rating a system can now generally have is 14. That number will likely continue to increase. Before you go and purchase the highest rated system you can find, however, you may first want to work on improving your home’s thermal rating. You can do this in multiple ways including:

  • Improving the insulation value of windows
  • Insulating and sealing ductwork
  • Install an attic fan
  • Improve insulation in ceilings and walls
  • Improve the radiant quality of your roofing
  • Use landscaping to increase shade on your property

You also should consider how long you may live in your home. A more efficient system will cost more so living in your home longer will produce a greater return. If you will be selling your home in a couple of years, the extra investment of a higher rated unit may not get you a return on investment.

If you are replacing an older AC unit that has an 8-10 SEER rating, you will likely be happy with what you get in a 14 SEER rated system. Many of our clients are often astonished at the difference it makes in their electric bill. When combined with some improvements in their home’s thermal rating and an even more efficient system, the results can be even more impressive. It is wise to discuss your situation with your local HVAC professional.

Contact Althoff Industries for the Advice You Need

If you are considering a new AC unit for your Chicago area home or business, we encourage you to contact us. We’ll discuss your home, lifestyle, and your expectation of your new AC system. We’ll talk about how long you may live in your home and help you select a system with the SEER rating that will give you your best ROI. You don’t have to go it alone. Get the help you need from the team who has made indoor air treatment our profession.

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