If you have no idea what a SEER rating is, then please read on.

SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is a Federal rating system that is designed to help consumers determine how much electricity every new air conditioning unit will use when connected to a specific furnace and cooling coil. This rating system applies to every air conditioning unit sold in this country. It’s really not that complicated, but I’ll attempt to clarify.

Basically, an air conditioning unit with a higher SEER rating will use less electricity, and theoretically cost less to operate, than another unit with a lower SEER rating. Each SEER point equates to a savings of about a $10.00 per month of average use. For example, a 15 SEER unit will cost about $20.00 less each month to operate than a 13 SEER unit.

The minimum rating for many years has been 10 SEER. In an effort to reduce energy usage Federal Energy Regulations now mandate that any residential air conditioning unit that is manufactured after January 22, 2006 must have a rating of at least 13 SEER. Equipment that was made prior to that date can still be sold until any current stock is depleted.

Air conditioners with ratings of 13 SEER and higher have been available for many years. Many homeowners have wisely chosen these units to help reduce their electric bills. In addition, units with higher SEER ratings have been qualifying for cash rebates from the utility companies.

Manufacturers may claim that some new units can achieve SEER ratings of 15 to 18 SEER, or even higher. However, be careful! Marketing people are a sly bunch. They know that they can legally promote an 18 SEER unit if only because the manufacturer can get some obscure combination of equipment to achieve this fantasy rating.

It isn’t effortless, but anyone can check online to see what the true SEER rating of any equipment combination may be. The website is www.ari.org. The site is not the easiest to navigate, but the information is there. If you have any questions regarding the efficiency of any combination, send me an e-mail or give me a call.

Other factors that will affect the SEER rating are duct sizing and refrigerant line sizing. Unfortunately, neither the local building departments nor the Feds have any rules regarding either of these important elements. To learn more about this and other vital information regarding heating and air conditioning attend one of our free monthly workshops.

We will be discussing new duct testing regulations at our next monthly Homeowners Workshop. All questions will be addressed, so bring your list. There is no cost to attend, so bring your friends, neighbors and relatives. If you are interested in attending, call Alex at (818) 886-2600 to make a reservation. Join us for a couple of hours and you’ll take home some useful information.

Jim Berry was a heating and air conditioning service technician prior to becoming a Sales Consultant for Kahn Air Conditioning. Kahn hosts free monthly workshops to help homeowners learn more about heating and cooling systems. For questions regarding heating or air conditioning, send an e-mail to Jim at jberry@kahnair.

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