SEER (seasonal energy efficiency rating) refers to your HVAC system’s operating efficiency. During South Texas’ hot, humid summers, SEER has a significant affect on your energy bills, the operating efficiency of your central air conditioner, as well as indoor humidity.
Minimum SEER Standards
Because air conditioners use so much electricity, the U.S. Department of Energy has established minimum standards for air conditioning systems, along with standardized testing procedures for measuring their efficiency.
Laboratories test every central air conditioner model and heat pump over the course of a season. This requires placing the outdoor condenser in an environment that’s held at 82 degrees, and then measuring how much energy it takes to cool a space to 80 degrees Fahrenheit with 50 percent humidity.
The minimum SEER rating for cooling systems has increased from 13 to 14 as of January 1, 2015 in the southern region of the U.S., which includes Texas. Each whole number increase in SEER indicates that the system uses 10 percent less electricity under standardized testing conditions.
Choosing a New System
While the increase in SEER standard will cut electrical consumption, homeowners in our region need to use caution when selecting a new system. Dehumidification is as much a part of indoor comfort as are cooler temperatures, making your system’s capacity to remove humidity just as important as a high SEER rating. In fact the Sizing of the equipment and the match up of the inside with the outside for humidity control is more important for comfort in our humid climate than simply SEER rating. Many companies pick their match up to get a higher SEER but get much worse humidity removal. An oversized unit will also short cycle and remove much less humidity. These factors combined can make your new system cause you to lower the temperature several degrees to be comfortable. This can actually increase your electric consumption and counteract the extra SEER rating.
Working with a reputable HVAC contractor who uses software tools like Manual J, D and S will help you identify the best system for your home. Sizing it correctly and selecting one with exceptional humidity removal will help you identify the most efficient system for your home. It might be one with a dual-speed compressor or a variable-speed indoor air handler. The outdoor coil and indoor coil should have the same SEER rating for optimal humidity removal.
Your HVAC system is one of the most complex devices in your home, and if you’d like more information about how to care for it, contact CCAC. We’ve been providing top-notch HVAC services for Coastal Bend homeowners since 1979.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Corpus Christi, Texas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about SEER ratings and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
Credit/Copyright Attribution: “All-vectors/Shutterstock”