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Here's How to Understand A/C Ratings


Shopping for a cooling system upgrade for your Santa Cruz-area home without a basic understanding of air conditioner ratings is a good way to get yourself fleeced. These days, with energy costs a big part of any household budget, it pays to know what sort of energy efficiency you're getting with any major system, and that includes a central air conditioner.

Among various air conditioner ratings available, the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is the most important one to consider when shopping for a split-system central A/C or heat pump. The split-system, with evaporator/air handler inside and condenser/compressor outside, is the most common household central cooling system.

SEER basically shows how well an air conditioner converts energy into cooling (it's a product of dividing cooling output by electrical input). While A/Cs as recent as 15 years ago sported SEER numbers even lower than 6, these days the federal government mandates that manufacturers abide by a SEER 13 minimum for split-system A/Cs and SEER 14 for air-source heat pump air conditioners.

To take advantage of the federal government's Energy Star mark of excellence, look for a central A/C or heat pump with SEER 15 or higher. The energy savings when upgrading your old SEER 6 cooling system to a new SEER 15 or 16 system may be as high as 30-40 percent.

The improvements in energy efficiency in air conditioners and heat pumps are partly a result of variable-speed and multi-cycle technology that allow cooling systems to run at slower but more continuous levels, using less energy than the old full-go, short-cycling systems. The technology is inherently more energy efficiency, as well.

Higher cooling efficiency does come at a cost, however. When considering air conditioner ratings, you'll want to consult with a trusted HVAC technician. He or she can tell you what SEER level makes the most sense for your household and the South Bay climate. It's not as simple as just choosing the very highest SEER level.

To discuss upgrading your home's central air conditioning system, please contact us at Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical. Shopping for a cooling system upgrade for your Santa Cruz-area home without a basic

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas of California about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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