Why SEER Ratings Matter When Choosing a New AC System in Birmingham AL

Published on: July 20, 2012

One of the hot topics about AC systems in Birmingham AL right now is the topic of SEER ratings. Many people believe that SEER ratings indicate how well an AC system will cool a home, but that is not the case. SEER ratings are not a measure of the cooling power of an AC unit, but rather a measure of how energy efficient the AC system will be. Some air conditioner repair technicians explain SEER ratings as being a measure similar to MPG ratings for cars. Cars that have a high MPG rating are considered more fuel efficient. If a car gets 40 MPG, the car is considered to be a very fuel efficient model.


What is a SEER Rating?

SEER ratings have been in existence for over 30 years. These ratings help homeowners and air conditioner repair and service companies determine how energy efficient an AC system will be. SEER ratings are posted for each AC system, usually on the packaging and in the user manual for the system.

A SEER rating is a ratio that indicates the energy efficiency of an AC or heating unit. The SEER ratio is calculated by dividing the electrical energy input over a season by the cooling output over a season. The ratio is expressed in a number ranging from 8 to about 20. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the AC system will be.

In the 1990s, an AC system with a SEER rating of 10 was considered to be a high efficiency system. Over time, AC systems have evolved and process energy in more efficient ways. Today’s AC systems must have a SEER rating of between 13 and 20. AC systems produced today are required to have a SEER rating of at least 13. However, the higher the SEER rating, the more efficiently the system will utilize electricity.


Will a High SEER Rating Save Money?

Four SEER rating points may save the homeowner as much as 30% in energy costs to cool the home. If the homeowner spends a bit more on the AC system for a higher SEER rating, they will definitely recover the extra cost in energy savings over a season or two. For homes in Birmingham AL, where the cooling season may extend over nine months of the year, the savings provided by an AC unit with a higher SEER rating will be even greater.

Older AC systems, particularly those older than 8-10 years, will have significantly lower SEER ratings than newer systems. Consider purchasing and installing a newer AC unit with a higher SEER rating to maximize your home’s energy efficiency. Older systems not only have low efficiency ratings, but may also affect the indoor air quality inside a home.

As an AC system ages, it becomes increasingly contaminated with pollen, dust, mold spores and other pollutants. A newer, more energy efficient AC system will improve the indoor air quality as well as maximize the energy efficiency of the home.


How Important is Indoor Air Quality?

The indoor air quality of a home is important now more than ever. Because homes are built to seal in the conditioned air and seal out outdoor air and noise, the indoor air quality may quickly diminish if steps are not taken to make sure the air inside the home remains pure.

Annual checks of the HVAC system by a qualified air conditioner repair and service company are recommended. An air conditioner repair technician will inspect the system and the ductwork, as well as assess the types of filters that are utilized for the AC unit.

Filter quality is an important factor in regards to maintaining indoor air quality. An air conditioner repair and service technician will recommend the ideal filters for your AC system to improve indoor air quality.

Another factor that will affect the air quality inside the home is the condition of the ductwork. Dirty or leaky ductwork will spread dust and allergens throughout the home. If your home is excessively dusty, ask your air conditioner repair specialist to schedule a ductwork inspection and cleaning. Cleaning the ductwork will improve the quality of the air inside the home.


Just as SEER ratings measure the energy efficiency of AC and heating units, MERV ratings are indicators of how effective air conditioner filters will be in maintaining air quality inside the home. The higher the MERV rating for an AC filter, the more effective the filter will be at removing harmful particles from the home’s air. Ask your air conditioner repair and service professional to recommend the type of filter that is right for your system and will keep the air quality in your home as healthy as possible for you and your family.