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What Does SEER Mean?

SEER is an acronym for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. Simply put, an air conditioner's SEER rating measures how efficiently your AC uses energy over the course of the cooling season.

If that revelation leaves you with no more information than you started with, you're not alone. So, here's the breakdown. As a Florida homeowner, you know you'll need your AC to be in top working order for the entire season and you hope to save as much money on your utility bills as possible.

What SEER Actually Means to You

It's probably no big surprise that most people aren't HVAC specialists. Luckily, you don't have to be a specialist to find a quality air conditioner with a good rating. Today's air conditioning systems range from 13 to 25 SEER. This is already good news if you're replacing an air conditioner that's over a decade old. Chances are, you'll automatically see a big improvement over your old unit.

You may know that a higher SEER rating means a more efficient air conditioner, but exactly how much difference does it make? Learning how SEER is calculated might help you determine exactly how high of a rating you need. A SEER rating is determined by figuring out the cooling rate over a typical cooling season divided by the energy it consumes. An important takeaway from this calculation is that SEER isn't a consistent value. It's a maximum value derived from a complete season average. For example, a unit's rating might more accurately read "as high as 16 SEER."

Determining the SEER Rating You Need

It's true that a higher SEER rating means a more energy-efficient system that leads to lower utility costs. Still, it's important to take a moment to consider what you actually need and whether you can afford it. An air conditioner with a higher SEER rating also has a higher price tag. Your energy savings may make up the difference and you might be able to find additional ways to pay for it. However, if a unit with the highest SEER rating will break your budget, it might not be the best system for you; especially if your home can stay comfortable with a lower cost air conditioner. Here are a few things to consider when determining the SEER rating best for you.

  • Your current financial situation: You might have your heart set on an AC unit with a 25 SEER rating but if you can't afford the price tag, it's time to consider your needs. If your home is in direct sunlight for the duration of each day during the season, your energy savings will be more significant than a home with shade. Your monthly savings should be enough to recoup the costs of a more expensive system.
  • Your home's natural defenses: If you have trees planted near your home and up-to-date insulation and other weatherproofing techniques, you might get away with a unit that has a lower SEER rating.
  • Your family's comfort level: Saving money is great, but it's not always the top priority. Air conditioning in Southern Florida can hardly be considered a luxury. Your air conditioner is a significant investment and it should have the capability to keep you and your family comfortable. Financing options can help you balance out the initial cost of a new air conditioner.
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