Air Conditioning, Heating, and Plumbing
Services for Residential and Commercial
Customers throughout Connectiout

Blog

What is the SEER Rating on an Air Conditioning Unit?

The more efficient an air conditioning and heat pump unit is, the less energy it will take to cool your home. Not only does that mean that your unit does not have to work as hard, it results in a lower utility bill. Typically, the higher a unit’s efficiency is, the more expensive it can be. Knowing the SEER rating is just one of many factors to consider when making  a purchase decision on an HVAC system.

wall-mount-mitsubishi-mini-split

What is a SEER Rating?

A SEER Rating – Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) measures an air conditioning and heat pump cooling efficiency, which is calculated by the cooling output for a typical cooling season divided by the total electric energy input during the same time frame.

(Cooling Output ÷ Total Electric Energy Input = SEER Rating)

Does this still seem fuzzy? We expect that for most, it does. We’ll explain this calculation in more detail in a bit here. But first, we dive into these ratings – where they’re located on your unit and what’s considered a good rating.

How Do I Find a Unit’s Rating?

SEER rating energyguideOn most units, there’s a yellow sticker labeled “Energy Guide” that displays the SEER rating. The example to the right shows a label from a unit with a rating of 15.0.

An A/C’s SEER rating is also listed near the top of the unit’s manufacturer label, where the model and serial number are listed. Look for the beginning digits of the model number. For example, a model number that begins with 15AC means the air conditioner has a SEER rating of 15.

What is a Good SEER Rating?

The higher the SEER, the more energy efficient an Air Conditioning installation will be. In Connecticut, we recommend at very least installing an AC unit with a rating of 14, but that’s bare minimum. Ratings can go as high as 25, so as you can see, you can be super energy efficient if your budget allows it.

But don’t think that energy efficiency necessarily comes with a huge price tag. Many utility companies, such as Energize Connecticut, offer lucrative rebates and discounts for home owners installing a 16 SEER rating or higher unit. Often times, you can experience instant savings, over lower rated systems, just by selecting a higher SEER rated unit. Never mind the long term savings you can experience on your utility bill.

How are SEER Ratings Calculated?

It’s rather simple, believe it or not.

  1. Find the BTUs per hour of your air conditioning unit. This value can be found either on the air conditioner itself or in the owner’s manual that came with the air conditioning unit.
  2. Find the number of watts used per hour for your unit. This value can be also found either on the unit itself or in the owner’s manual that came with the unit.
  3. Next, calculate the number of BTUs used in the summer months.Use 1,000 hours, which equates to about 125 days or four months, to represent the late spring and summer months when air conditioners are used. Multiply the number from step one by 1,000 to get the number of BTUs used in the summer months.
  4. Calculate the number of watts-hours used in the summer months by multiplying the number from step two by 1,000.
  5. Divide the BTUs used in the summer months (the result of step three) by the number of watts-hours consumed in the summer months (the result of step three) to arrive at the SEER rating.

Or, you can skip the math and download a free MS Excel SEER calculator from energy.gov.

Air Conditioning & Heating Efficiency: Ductless Mini Split Systems

Summer is Just Around the Corner

With summer just around the corner, you may have started to think about how expensive cooling your home can be. You may have also asked yourself, are there any alternative options out there that are more energy efficient than traditional central air conditioning systems? The simple answer is, YES.

Ductless Mini Split Systems

More and more people are switching to ductless mini split systems in Connecticut (and throughout the Northeast) to cool and heat (yes, heat) their homes. Mini splits are growing in popularity very fast and are rather simple to install in new and older homes. They also don’t ductless mini split systemsrequire the all the duct work that tradition central HVAC systems do. They’re energy efficient and an average household can expect to save 100s of dollars annually, when compared to traditional systems.

Believe it or not, this technology has been around since the 60s. They were initially pioneered by Asian manufacturers as a step up from window units. But as the technology developed, these units became more cost efficient and quitter than traditional central air systems. Ductless mini split systems have seen a huge gain in popularity in the United States in the recent years, due in large part to these benefits.

How Does the System Work?

Like all traditional HVAC systems, ductless mini split systems take the heat from inside your home and transfers it to the outside. This is pretty exactly what your refrigerator does when it operates to keep your food cold. The evaporator, which is inside, and condenser, which is outside, work together to transfer and dissipate heat. When used in heating mode, the system simply reverses the process and pumps heat from outside to the inside.

Why are Mini Splits So Much More Energy Efficient?

Ductless gives homeowners more control of their cooling (and heating). You can adjust the temperature on the first floor when you go to bed and turn units off in other rooms, when they’re not in use. They use only the minimum energy required to perfectly match the need for heating or cooling required in your space. With traditional units, it’s typically all or nothing. Having full control of which rooms you can cool or heat is a huge cost savings in itself. Factor in not moving air through expansive ductwork, means your decreasing your energy loss and saving money too.

How Much Money Can You Expect to Save?

Your savings will depend on the how often the system is used and what the original source of heating or cooling is. It’s not uncommon to save north of 25% to 50%, when compared to traditional systems. Most experts can give you a ballpark idea of what you can expect in savings by doing a few simple calculations.

What Homes are Compatible for these Systems?

The simple answer: Almost all homes.

In Connecticut (and throughout New England), the opportunities appear to be endless. We have lots of homes that are well over 100 years old, as well as homes built in the mid to late 1900s. Many of these homes have baseboard or radiator heat and have no ductwork for air conditioning. Ductless mini splits give home owners an easy way to retrofit their homes, without having the cost of tearing apart walls and ceilings. Home owners also get the added benefit of replacing less energy efficient fossil fuel heating systems.

Are Ductless Mini Split Systems Expensive to Install?

When compared to traditional HVAC systems, it can be a minimal to moderate savings. Since installation of these systems is highly customizable, its going to depend on exactly what you require of the system to do. We don’t ever like to mislead our customers by saying “they’re less expensive to install,” because they’re not always. The real savings comes after the installation, which, as mentioned above, can be a reduction of 25% to 50% compared to traditional systems. That in itself is the #1 selling point for most of our customers. There are also big utility rebates available to save you even more money on an installation.

What Deals are Currently Available?

Currently, we are partnered with Energize Connecticut, and offering rebates on ductless mini split systems of up to $1,000 and 2.9% energize-connecticutfinancing for 10 years, with no credit check.  These deals are subject to change at any time, so make sure you check with us, so you can plan accordingly.

Bob Vila on the Benefits of Ductless HVAC

Hot and cold spots, unnecessary energy use and obstructed views are common HVAC complaints. Mitsubishi Electric teamed up with Bob Vila and his crew to educate homeowners on a solution that solves it all: ductless HVAC.Bob Vila on the Benefits of Ductless HVAC

The first two posts of the 10-part series on BobVila.com focused on the engineering behind the technology. Posts 3, 4 and 5 address those all-too-familiar annoyances. Here’s an overview of each:

5 Overlooked Ways to Cool Down a Hot Room
Many homeowners’ rooms just won’t get thermally comfortable. Some homeowners try to cope; others try wasteful, ineffective space heaters and window units. A ductless hvac system is the lasting solution. It continuously monitors a space and automatically adjusts to deliver year-round comfort efficiently and effectively.

Save Money and Live Better with Multizone HVAC
Central HVAC is inherently wasteful. It forces homeowners to cool or heat unoccupied spaces. Ductless gives homeowners more control. They can adjust the temperature on the first floor when they go to bed and turn units off in their children’s room when they go to college. As the Bob Vila team says, ductless systems “are able to adapt to how people actually live.”

The Best Alternative to a Window Air Conditioner
Window units are loud and unattractive. Ductless systems, however, are ultra-quiet and nonintrusive. Our indoor units operate as low as 19 dB(A) – quieter than a whisper. And while there’s only one way to install a window unit, there’s plenty of ways to install ductless. Mount an indoor unit on the wall, floor or ceiling. Install outdoor units out of sight – camouflaged within landscaping or hidden beneath a deck, for example.