Sometimes air conditioning terminology can be confusing. Have you ever noticed an “Energy Star®” label on your air conditioning system? Perhaps you’ve heard a friend mention the terms BTU, EER, or SEER. These terms all relate to the concept of energy efficiency.
For an air conditioning unit to work it must use electricity, energy-efficient devices use less electricity. Cooling efficiency refers to the amount of electricity that your air conditioning system uses to cool an area. In simpler terms, the fewer dollars you spend to get a cooler home, the better the cooling efficiency.
To make sure you have the correct air conditioning system for your home, you should first understand the different terminologies and what implications they have on the cooling efficiency of your unit.
You may have noticed the Energy Star® Certified label on some of your devices. The United States Government as part of its green energy strategy certifies products that are rated as being efficient in their power consumption. Air conditioners that are Energy Star® certified can use up to 8% less electricity than uncertified units.
BTU stands for British Thermal Unit and is the world standard for air conditioning cooling capabilities. Simply put, the BTU describes how much electricity it would require to remove heat from an area per hour. The higher the BTU rating is on your AC, the better it can cool and dehumidify your home.
A central air conditioning system that has a BTU rating higher than what is needed for your home will use a lot more energy. This also means that a unit that is rated lower than what is necessary will never truly cool your home.
When a unit cycles on and off too often, its lifespan is shortened. If it can’t cool adequately, it will never switch off and use excessive amounts of electricity.
The energy efficiency ratio or EER is one of the most important benchmarks for consumers when they are considering upgrading their air conditioning. It also means that the higher the ratio is, the more money you’ll be saving on your running costs.
In simple terms, the EER is calculated by dividing the amount of cooling power in BTU per hour by the electricity needed to do so. Higher BTUs accompanied by lower watts consumed indicates a superior cooling efficiency. The EER is calculated against a single highest temperature of 95ºF.
The EER is calculated on the hottest day of the year and the cooling capacity of the unit involved. The seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) is calculated by averaging the BTU attained across the entire season’s temperatures and then dividing it by the power consumption.
This way the SEER can provide a better view of the cooling efficiency for a more moderate climate. SEER ratings range from 8 to 22. 8 is the poorest efficiency rating you should consider. 22 is the highest. To be safe, any AC that has a SEER over 17 or above is ideal.
As a Boca Raton local, it’s a good idea to have a look at both ratios when considering an upgrade. As mentioned above, the EER is calculated against one high temperature of 95ºF. This is a great yardstick for South Florida summers. Where the cooler months are considered, you can then make use of the SEER. As the SEER is calculated on average temperatures, it makes the SEER a perfect benchmark to use for South Florida’s cooler months.
If you’re still unsure of what unit is best for your home, don’t worry, our licensed technicians are on hand to assist with any questions you have.
Art Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electric has been serving homeowners in Boca Raton for over 30 years. If you need an upgrade on your central air conditioning system, give us a call at 561-391-1048.