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SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It is calculated by dividing the amount of cooling supplied by an A/C system with the electricity consumed by the system under specific seasonal conditions.

SEER ratings are determined in a laboratory where the specific indoor and outdoor conditions as determined by the U.S. Department of Energy. Because A/C systems are evaluated using the same conditions, they can be compared to each other using the SEER rating. The higher the number, the better the efficiency.

Higher SEER ratings are usually achieved by manufacturers using the latest technology in their equipment. That, in turn, can have a big influence on equipment costs. You may pay more for the latest and greatest, but you’ll get increased efficiency and therefore lowered electricity bills in return.

According to American Standard, one of the leading A/C manufacturers in the U.S., most systems installed prior to 2006 are 10 SEER or lower. Installing a new 13 SEER system with its superior technology can save you 38% on your electricity bill, a 14 SEER can save you 43% and a 15 SEER can save you 47%. Impressive, don’t you think?

As stated in a previous column, it’s best to invest in the highest quality equipment you can afford. In the long run, this saves you money in operational costs, repairs and premature replacement.

Additional Definitions of Common A/C Terms

BTU

British Thermal Unit. In scientific terms, it represents the amount of energy required to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. One BTU is the equivalent of the heat given off by a single wooden kitchen match. For your home, it represents the measure of heat given off when fuel is burned for heating or the measure of heat extracted from your home for cooling.

Ton

A unit of measurement used for determining cooling capacity. One ton is the equivalent of 12,000 BTUs per hour. A 2,000 square-foot house typically requires a five-ton system.

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