The SEER Rating is the primary comparison metric for AC and heat-pumps. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio is a measurement of efficiency and compares energy consumption to cooling output. The higher the SEER rating the more efficient the unit is at cooling your building and saving on power costs. Ratings range from 6 to 23. By statute we are required to have a 14 SEER or higher unit in replacement or new construction. But higher SEER ratings will cost more. The units are tested over varying temperatures and humidity conditions by the manufacturer.
SEER Terms & Calculator Metrics
There are other terms and metrics you need to be aware of:
• MERV – Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and it is your filter’s rating. Higher the number the more efficient the filter. MERV 16 is the highest, specified for hospital use and captures the most minute particles.
• Compressor – The compressor is the heart of your AC or heat-pump. It circulates and raises the operating pressure of the conditioners operating fluid. (The AC cycle compresses and liquifies the freon gas, then it expands picking up heat from the inside air and back to the compressor as a gas.)
• Line Set – On split system two copper lines can be seen connected to the AC unit. The small line carries the freon in the liquid state, while the larger line handles the gas. Insulating the larger tube will increase efficiency.
• Registers – Supply and return. Supply is where the conditioned air is introduced into the interior and the return is where the air goes to be recirculated.
• Air Handler – This is the interior component of split system. Contains the air recirculation fan and the evaporator.
• Tonnage – The other primary metric in rating an AC or heat-pump. It is a measure of the cooling capacity of the unit. It is measured in British Thermal Units or Btu’s at 12,000 Btu’s per ton. It measures how much heat is removed and is compared to how much heat it took to melt one ton of ice in 24 hours. It is about 286,000 Btu’s. For reference one Btu is about equal to a wooden match output burned from end to end. Ice absorbs about 11,917 Btu’s per hour.
Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)
SEER isn’t the only rating. Another is the EER is the energy efficiency ratio. This done by setting the exterior temperature to 95°F and the indoor temperature to 80°F and a relative humidity of of 50%. A EER rating of 11 or higher are considered efficient. In the southwest new replacement or new construction requires a 14 SEER unit or an EER rating of 11.0 to 12.2 range.
Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF)
But there is more. The HSPF or Heating Seasonal Performance Factor use to measure the efficiency of heat-pumps. HSPF of greater or equal to 8 is the industries minimal standard. HSPF is a ratio of Btu heat output over the season to the watt-hours of electricity used. Its units are Btu/watt-hr.
Seasonal Coefficient of Performance (COP)
COP or Coefficient of performance for a heat pump and is the ratio of heat energy delivered to the electrical energy used. In Europe the SPF or seasonal performance factor is used, and is the same as the COP.
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However, the most common is SEER, in the south western US the current minimum is a rating of 14, and the cost of installation goes up with the SEER rating, but power costs drop. Air Supply Heating & Air Conditioning can consult with you to find the best HVAC unit for your needs. Contact us to learn more today!