HVAC terms can seem intimidating to someone new to the industry. For example, many companies brag about SEER ratings on their packaging and ads. They claim their units have the highest AC efficiency, but what exactly does “SEER” mean to you and your Alexandria, VA home?

What is exactly is SEER?

“SEER” stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and is a value that represents the ratio of the cooling output of an AC unit over a season divided by the energy it consumed (which is displayed in watt-hours). Basically, the SEER rating is a number that shows just how efficient your air conditioner is over a period of time.

Why is SEER important?

Air conditioners with a higher SEER rating are more energy efficient. However, a unit’s SEER rating shows how efficient the unit can be at its peak, not how efficient it is all the time. The SEER rating advertised on a unit’s packaging will be its highest rating during the season, not what it will be throughout the entire year. In other words, think of SEER the way you think of your car’s fuel efficiency. It may get 40 miles per gallon sometimes, but it only gets a fraction of that if you’re in dense traffic.

What’s a typical SEER rating?

Air conditioners made in the 70s and 80s used to have SEER ratings of about eight or nine. Today, AC efficiency has greatly increased. Some states require HVAC companies to sell AC units with a minimum SEER rating of 14, while others don’t have any restrictions. A SEER rating in the low-20s is generally considered a good number. However, remember: the SEER rating only shows the maximum AC efficiency, so while your AC unit might be producing a SEER of 22 at night when it’s 70 degrees, the SEER will probably be lower during hot summer days when it can reach 90.

At Commonwealth Cooling & Heating, we offer a wide variety of Bryant air conditioning units with high SEER ratings, especially our ENERGY STAR® products. For more information about SEER ratings and AC efficiency, call us at 703-436-8028.