The Scoop on Air Conditioner Ratings

The Scoop on Air Conditioner Ratings

April 22, 2019

Air conditioner ratingsare used to describe the overall energy efficiency of a unit and can help you comparison shop for the model that's the best fit for your home. The monthly operating costs of the new A/C you select will be directly related to its energy efficiency; i.e., how much electricity it consumes to keep you comfortable all summer long.

Not all air conditioners are created equal, so sticker price alone isn't the best way to determine the best buy. The long-term ongoing operating cost of the unit should also be considered. The more energy efficient your air conditioner is, the less you’ll pay each month to keep your home comfortable. If an HVAC unit is not very energy efficient, that means it takes more electricity (and more money out of your pocket) to keep it up and running. Air conditioner ratings, which are required by the federal government on every new unit, are one good way to know what you're purchasing before you buy.

SEER Ratings

Short for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, SEER is the primary efficiency metric utilized by the HVAC industry to rate central air conditioners. SEER ratings are calculated by the volume of cooling output during a typical cool season divided by the total electric energy input during the same period. The higher the air conditioning unit’s SEER rating, the more energy efficient it is, which generally means lower operating costs. By choosing a higher SEER-rated product, you’re taking steps to save money and make your home more energy efficient. However, pairing an extremely efficient air conditioner that earned a high SEER rating with an old furnace will not improve your home’s energy consumption. In order for the unit to perform at optimal performance, both units must be able to perform efficiently.

You can see this rating printed on the bright-yellow EnergyGuide sticker provided by the Department of Energy and affixed to every new unit. SEER is also usually stated in the manufacturer's written specifications. Energy Star-rated products are diligently tested and are 15-20% more efficient than their counterparts without the rating. The purpose of the label is for homeowners to easily compare the energy consumption differences between similar products.

What is a good SEER rating?

The federal minimum SEER rating is 13 in this region, but some of Lozier's high-efficiency A/C units offer SEER ratings above 20! Many homeowners ask is it worth it to spend more for a better SEER rating? The answer depends on the ratings you’re choosing between. If we’re comparing models with a 17 SEER, like our XC16, and a 14 SEER, like the 14ACX, these units will have different features that make them more or less efficient. The biggest differences will be the higher rated air conditioner will have a multi-stage scroll compressor and be compatible with humidity-controlling technology versus the single-stage scroll compressor in the 14 SEER air conditioner. This probably sounds like a lot of HVAC jargon, but we’ll sum it up for homeowners. This means you’ll most likely be more comfortable with the higher SEER rating since it offers humidity control, and it will be more efficient since the multi-stage cooling will not require the system to start up as frequently as a single-stage unit.

We recommend using the Lennox energy savings calculator, which lets you compare different SEER ratings so you know how much you could save over the course of 5 years, 10 years and 15 years with an energy efficient unit versus a less advanced model. To make it easier for our customers, we display these SEER comparisons next to our top product offerings. If you have more questions, a qualified HVAC contractor can advise you on achieving a balance between affordable price and a SEER efficiency rating that fits your home and local climate.

The Difference Between The SEER and EER Rating

We’ve talked a lot about SEER ratings, but we don’t want to leave out EER ratings, since those will sometimes appear on your EnergyGuide stickers. EER stands for Energy Efficient Rating, and was used to calculate energy efficiency before the SEER measurement. The largest distinction between the two ratings is that SEER takes seasonality elements into account, whereas the EER rating is a more constant measure. A note of caution, these two ratings CANNOT be compared to each other - it won’t make sense! These are very different measurements and should be used strictly to compare other air conditioners with similar SEER or EER ratings. Additionally, EER ratings are typically applied to smaller cooling systems, like a mounted air conditioner. Your HVAC technician might use the EER number to gage the efficiency of an A/C, but homeowners should typically use the SEER rating to make their purchasing decision on a new air conditioning system.

Sound Ratings

Air conditioner ratings also address noise issues. To maintain optimum peace and quiet around your home and neighborhood, choose a unit with acceptable low-noise ratings. These are expressed by an SRN (Sound Rating Number) between 75 and 80 or a decibel (db) rating of less than 80.The lower the number for both of these measurements, the better the sound rating, and the quieter air conditioning unit you’ll have.

Our air conditioning units are measured in decibels, and our quietest A/Cs in our Signature Collection®? measure about 60 decibels. Less efficient models will typically have a higher decibel level, like the air conditioners in our Elite or Merit series range between 65-76 decibels. To give you an idea of how much louder a 10 decibel range is, 60 decibels is about the same noise level as an electric toothbrush, whereas the noise level of a vacuum cleaner is about 70 decibels.

Greatest Heating and Cooling Company in Des Moines

For more about using air conditioner ratings to identify the best buy and most efficient A/C, contact the professionals at Lozier Heating & Cooling. Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater Des Moines, Iowa area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).