Breakdown of SEER
The SEER rating on an air conditioning unit is one of the most important factors you should take into account when purchasing a new unit for your home. SEER, which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, is a number that indicates the maximum energy efficiency of a central air conditioning (AC) unit while it operates over a typical “cooling season.” The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient it is, but also the more expensive up front. Yes, a more energy-efficient system will save you money on your monthly utility bills, and a less-than-honest sales person may convince you the savings are well worth it, but there are a few other things you need to consider in determining your ideal SEER number, in addition to that.
First, it will be useful to understand how a SEER rating is calculated. The total amount of energy output (measured in BTUs) used over the cooling season is divided by the total amount of electrical energy input (measured in watts) that is used. In other words, the amount of energy produced to cool a room to a specific indoor temperature is measured against the amount of energy consumed by the AC unit to create this cooling. This measurement is done under a variety of outdoor temperatures ranging from the 60s to the 100s, with variable humidity levels, while maintaining an indoor temperature of 80°F. The resulting average number is what determines the SEER rating.
Every AC system is tested by the manufacturer according to guidelines stipulated by the U.S. Department of Energy. The whole point of performing a test over time like this, with varying temperature conditions, is to try and gauge how much energy an HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) unit consumes when used during a typical summer season in the U.S. However, not all climates are similar across the nation, and a 13 SEER in an arid, hot climate may not be as efficient as a 13 SEER in a milder, moderately warm climate. Similarly, an AC unit’s efficiency will fluctuate based on different weather conditions; how efficiently it runs when it’s 101F outside will differ from how efficiently it runs when it’s 85°F outside. The SEER number is not a constant—rather, it’s the maximum amount of energy efficiency an AC unit can achieve, which means a 16 SEER can reach a maximum operational efficiency of 16 but will sometimes operate at a lower efficiency as well, depending on varying weather conditions.
It’s important to remember that the SEER rating is not a constant value but changes often, much like the MPG of your car changes based on how you drive it. Keep this in mind when you come across a SEER energy savings chart, or one of the many SEER savings calculators you’ll find online. These tools use the maximum SEER number to show you how much energy is being saved, as if an AC unit is going to work at its maximum efficiency 100% of the time, which just isn’t accurate. Also, many of these charts and calculators base their savings percentages on an 8 SEER or a 10 SEER, when you may have a 12 SEER. So, if you see a chart with 50% savings listed above a 16 SEER, then that means a 16 SEER is 50% (at the most)more efficient than an 8 SEER only. If you have a 12 SEER and upgrade to a 16 SEER, you’ll see closer to 25% in energy savings, which is still pretty good.
Determining what is best for your home and budget
Higher SEER units cost more than lower SEER units, but perhaps you like the fact that higher SEER units will not only save you money on your utility bills, but will also reduce energy consumption all around, which is good for the environment, and a higher energy efficient model will reduce your own personal carbon footprint. Now you need to determine the best SEER for your home, your budget, and your lifestyle.
In order to do this, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions:
5 simple steps to determine your ideal SEER
Common questions/FAQs about SEER
A heat pump installation can make a significant difference to your energy bills as it helps reduce the cost of cooling & heating your property. This acts like a Furnace replacement as well as an AC replacement. Depending in the type of heat pump you choose and the size of your home, the cost of a heat pump installation can be in the range of $3,955 to $6,773.
If you are considering purchasing a geothermal pump, that would require underground installation that would increase the installation costs; these would be higher than what you would pay for installation of an air-source pump. While the purchase and installation of a heat pump represent a significant investment, it is a very energy-efficient system and can reduce the amount you spend on your utility bills in the long term. Before we go into details about how much it costs to install a heat pump, you would have to take these aspects into account:
Installation Cost Considerations
The amount of excavation required will impact the installation cost. Ensure you consult and discuss this with a few well-established heat pump installers and get quotes from them. This is because there can be a significant variation in installation costs. For instance, if the project involves drilling through a driveway or a concrete slab, it will escalate the overall cost of the heating system replacement, in comparison to an installation in which no excavation is involved.
1. Expenses involved
These are the expenses that would have to be kept in view while installing either an air-source pump or a geothermal one:
This is one of the most important aspects that determine the cost of your heat pump installation. A larger house would need a pump of a higher capacity to meet its heating & cooling requirements. The higher the capacity of the unit, the more you shell out for it. It’s important that you don’t try to cut costs by opting for a pump of a lesser capacity; that will only cause you to spend more in terms of energy usage.
Aside from this, it will stress the system and reduce its lifespan, and you would eventually have to replace it sooner than required. The unit should be sized based on the maximum heating and cooling demand. You would have to take the square-footage of the space into account while determining the heat pump size.
2. Sound Rating
It’s also very important that you factor in the sound rating; look for one that has a lower rating as the ones that are noisy can actually cause the exterior walls closest to the installation, to vibrate when they are in use.
A heat pump is always the most–effective in a temperate climate; if the climate in your area is extremely hot or cold, the system will end up using more energy than it should to maintain the indoor temperature at the desired levels. This is why something that is easy on your pocket might not always be an excellent option if you live in a region with a hot and humid or even a very frosty climate.
4. Split/Packaged System
You would have to decide whether you want a spilt system or a packaged one. The former has an exterior unit as well as an indoor one. On the other hand, a packaged model is an all-in-one system that is fitted outdoors; it doesn’t have an indoor element.
This is another factor you would have to take into account. If your property doesn’t have ducting installations, you may want to consider opting for a ductless system. This requires only one small hole in the wall to connect the outdoor unit with the indoor unit. Certain short run models are ideal for smaller areas in a home, like rooms that have ductwork installed.
6. Number of Rooms
You would have to keep in view the number of rooms that require heating or cooling. A single zone system can be used to heat only one area of the house and will have only one interior unit and one exterior installation. In comparison, a multi-zone unit can have multiple indoor units connected to a single condenser unit which is located outdoors. All of these factors have bearing on the cost of the heat pump you decide to install on your property.
Understanding Heat Pump Pricing
Every heat pump manufacturing company generally offers high/mid and low-quality systems. The cost of the heat pump will be dependent on the SEER and HSPF ratings. A system with a higher energy and a higher HSPF score will cost more than one with lower ratings. Most homeowners opt for a mid-quality heat pump, and spend in the range of $700 and $2,800 for it (excluding labor expenses). Based on the model and brand as well as installation factors such as excavation and drilling, the cost can eventually reach $9,000.
Most heat pump manufacturers don’t display unit prices since there are a number of factors that impact the overall cost. However, the average cost of major heat pump brands for their 3-ton models could be in the range of $5,000- $9000 for labor and all the standard supplies and material. If more pipe work is involved that cost would have to be factored in as well.
Today, you will also find a number of hybrid heat pumps that pull energy from gas boilers; absorption pumps operate on water that’s heated by geothermal energy /solar panels. However, these aren’t as commonly used as the heat pumps we just talked about and their unit and installation costs are
The Aire-Flo 4AC13L24P central AC unit provides affordable, basic cooling. It is a single-stage unit that offers a 13 SEER. This brand is Lennox’s budget brand of HVAC units. You can expect this unit to perform well for 12 to 15 years. This review will provide information about efficiency, features, and pricing.
Operating Cost Efficiency Rating (1/5): With a 13 SEER, this is not a very efficient unit. It is the lowest SEER allowed by the US government and is not a good choice for warm climates. If you live in a warm climate, spend a bit more on a unit with greater efficiency and the unit will pay for itself quickly. In cool climates, or in vacation homes that are not often occupied, a unit like this will work well. It’s also a good short-term AC solution if you plan to be in your home for five years or less.
Feature Rating (2/5): This unit is admittedly basic. Here are a few of its key features:
Reliability Rating (4/5): The Aire-Flo 13 SEER 4AC13L24P AC is a reliable unit. It provides surprisingly dependable service and has a repair record that is above average for the industry, despite its budget status. With regular maintenance, the unit can provide more than 15 years of cooling.
Manufacturer’s Warranty Rating (2/5): Aire-Flo backs this model with a 5-year compressor and parts limited warranty. This is lower than the industry standard of 10 years, but an extended 10-year warranty is available for an additional cost.
Overall Rating (2/5): Don’t let this overall rating distract you, this unit is dependable and will keep you home cool, it will just do it by using a great deal of energy. The bottom line is that it is not a good choice if you are looking for high-performance or precise indoor comfort control. If standard performance is what you want and you live in a moderate climate, this may be the unit for you.
Aire-Flo is Lennox’s budget brand of HVAC units. The Aire-Flo 4AC13L18P central AC is very affordable and reliable. This unit would work well for homeowners seeking a 5 to 10 year solution for their home. It is a popular choice for vacation homes as it is not used as much as a unit in a primary residence. This unit, although basic, is reliable and affordable. Here is more detailed information about this worthwhile central AC:
Pricing:This is an affordable unit. Here is the current pricing for the most popular sizes:
This unit is backed by a 5-year parts and compressor warranty. This is an average warranty for a budget brand. Aire-Flo does offer a 10-year extended warranty that also covers labor. Definitely purchase the extended warranty if you plan to use this model heavily. We recommend having this unit installed by a qualified professional. Expert installation will ensure that your unit operates as it should. The technician will have the know-how not only to install the unit, but to adjust the system to achieve the highest efficiency, based on the needs of your home.
Maytag is one of the most dependable appliance brands on the market today. The Maytag M1200 Series reinforces that reputation of dependability and innovation. This may be the most efficient residential central AC on the market with a 24.5 SEER rating. The modulating compressor runs on enough power to maintain a precise indoor temperature with almost no waste and little inefficiency. This unit saves the average homeowner 50 to 60 percent on their cooling costs when replacing models just 10 to 15 years old. This unit was included on our Top Rated Central Air Conditioners list for 2013 for all these reasons, and more.
This is not a unit to ignore if you are looking to lower your energy bills, save energy, and live in a warm climate. Admittedly, this unit is not ideal for cooler climates. This model exceeds the 10-year industry standard with a 12-year limited warranty which covers the entire unit. We recommend using an experienced professional to install your HVAC unit. Professional installation will guarantee that your unit performs optimally for the next 15 years. A technician with HVAC know-how will make sure that the system is installed correctly, tune it to match the other components, and adjust the system’s blower motor for greatest efficiency and performance.
Here are a few key features of this model:
Here are some sample prices, according to tonnage:
Maytag has emerged as an HVAC leader in the past 5-10 years and now makes some of the most efficient, highest performing heat pumps on the market. The Maytag model M1200 15 SEER model isn’t the efficiency leader in their lineup, but it can certainly hold its own. This unit will reduce energy costs by 25 to 35 percent in most homes. It’s also one of the best-looking heat pumps on the market with a brushed stainless steel cabinet that protect the unit with a corrosion-resistant finish with safe, rounded edges. Maytag has a reputation for quality, and consumer reviews reflect that in this unit. The manufacturer’s track record for reliability is one of the best in the industry.
Here are a few key features of this unit:
Here is some sample pricing, according to tonnage:
The prices are on the higher end, but you get what you pay for. This model exceeds the 10-year industry standard with a 12-year limited warranty which covers the entire unit. Consider installing this unit with a variable-speed air handler or gas furnace to get the highest efficiency and most comfortable indoor climate. This will make with difference between a rating of 14 SEER instead of 15. We recommend using an experienced professional to install your heat pump. Professional installation will guarantee that your unit performs optimally for the next 15 years. A technician with HVAC know-how will make sure that the system is installed correctly, tune it to match the other components, and adjust the system’s blower motor for greatest efficiency and performance. Review of Maytag Model M1200 – 15 SEER Heat Pump
The type of compressor will indicate how the unit will perform. There are 1-stage, 2-stage and modular compressors. The most efficient of the three is modular, which runs between 40 and 100 percent capacity until more power is needed. This delivers balanced, reliable cooling with little fluctuation. This type of compressor offers the most precise temperature control as well. These are the most expensive types of units. A 2-stage central air conditioner also runs at low capacity, about 65 percent. Thus, its cycles are longer and quieter. These units do a great job of dehumidifying and filtering the air. Single-stage models run at full capacity all the time, making them the least efficient. They typically produce slight temperature fluctuations, but they are far more affordable than more efficient alternatives. Please keep in mind that any air conditioner, regardless of its compressor type, will make your home more comfortable when used with a variable-speed blower in the furnace.
For many homeowners, cost is the most important consideration when selecting an AC unit. Top-of-the-line units are compared to budget units in each brand price list, allowing you to easily compare features and pricing. You can also compare brands to learn more about how each one differs.Split systems can be either a traditional air conditioner and furnace or a heat pump and air handler – or a heat pump and furnace in very cold climates. For a split system, check out gas furnace price lists for these brands. Don’t forget about the oil furnace price lists if oil makes more sense based on where you live.
Aire-Flo is a budget brand manufactured by Lennox. The Aire-Flo 4HP14L18 heat pump provides good performance and efficiency at a great price. This unit is reliable and is a great option for homeowners considering selling their home within a few years. It does not offer any long-term energy cost benefits you would see with a high-efficiency heat pump. The Aire-Flo 4HP14L18 heat pump works well in moderate to warm climates that don’t demand a great deal of heating in cool months. This review will examine features, pricing, and the warranty.
Here are the key features of this model:
Here is the current pricing for this series:
Warranty: This unit comes with 5-year coverage on the compressor and all other parts. The warranty is consistent with most value-oriented heat pumps on the market. An extended warranty is available.
Don’t Cut Corners on Installation: Consumers purchasing a budget-line unit like this are often looking for any opportunity to save money. Don’t be tempted by saving money on installation! Heat pump installation is not a typical DIY or handyman job. It takes HVAC know-how that most handy guys don’t possess, as well as tools and testing equipment to make sure the job is done correctly. If the heat pump is not installed properly, it will negatively impact the unit for years to come, wasting your money. Find a qualified contractor in your area to install your unit.
The Amana ACVC9 is a two-stage, variable speed furnace that offers optimal efficiency. This review will provide information about features, pricing, warranty, and installation to help you determine if this is the right furnace for your home.
Features: Amana is an industry favorite. Their furnaces offer many features, including:
Pricing: Prices range from $2,079 on eBay for the 115,000 BTUH model to $1,769 from an online merchant for the 70,000 BTUH model. These prices are for the equipment only and do not include installation, tax, or shipping.
Warranty: Amana offers a 10-year limited lifetime warranty on the heat exchanger and a 1-year limited warranty on parts. Please beware that Amana does not offer warranties on products purchased over the internet, unless the seller is also installing the equipment. Purchase your equipment from a qualified Amana dealer to take full advantage of their industry-leading warranty.
Getting the Best Installation for your Amana Furnace: We recommend having this unit installed by a qualified professional. Expert installation will ensure that your unit operates as it should. The technician will have the know-how to properly install the unit and to adjust the system to achieve the highest efficiency, based on the needs of your home.
Here’s how to find a great local qualified contractor:
Amana has a great reputation for producing high-quality furnaces that are a favorite of many HVAC technicians. Consult with an HVAC technician you trust before deciding if the ACVC9 is right for you.
We have prepared an Air Conditioner Ratings Guide to help consumers learn more about their AC options. Central air conditioners fall into three categories: high-efficiency, high-price; mid-efficiency, mid-price; and standard efficiency, low-price. Thankfully, there really aren’t any low-efficiency models available today. It’s important to note that efficiency doesn’t necessarily mean good/better/best. It’s really a question of what makes the most sense for your home, in your area. We have selected the top three central air conditioners and have compared them to one another, suggested who would benefit from each model, and offered additional central air conditioners for consideration.
High-Efficiency, High-Price: York Affinity Series Model CZH Central Air Conditioner operates in high efficiency, but also is also durable and performs beautifully. Top features include 18 SEER efficiency which reduce cooling costs by 50 percent in most homes. It also operates very quietly. This model will begin to pay for itself as soon as you turn it on. Of the top three models, it offers the best coil protection because the steel coil guard prevents rocks thrown by the lawn mower, or children. There is also a polymer mesh screen to prevent efficiency-robbing dirt and dust from clogging the coil. Consider the York Affinity Series Model CZH 18 SEER Central Air Conditioner if you are living in a warmer climate and you use your air conditioner heavily. It should pay for itself within 3 to 6 years while reducing energy costs and keeping you cool.
Other Top High-Efficiency, High-Price Air Conditioners:
Mid-Efficiency, Mid-Price: Ruud UARL-JEZ Series Central Air Conditioner offers good energy savings with 16 SEER, along with features like a 2-stage compressor for balanced cooling and internal pressure switches to protect the compressor. This model features the Copeland UltraTech Scroll compressor, a top-rated compressor in the industry. It also features an elevated base pan to reduce vibration and prevent corrosion in the condensing unit. Consider the Ruud UARL-JEZ Series Central Air Conditioner If you are looking to spend less but also care about efficiency. It is handy if precise indoor comfort is something you are choosy about, due to its 2-stage compressor and the enhanced humidity control.
Other Top Mid-Efficiency, Mid-Cost Air Conditioners:
Standard-Efficiency, Low-Price: Coleman Echelon Series AC5B Air Conditioner has been revamped and now produces some of the highest-quality central AC units on the market. The Coleman Echelon Series Model AC5B 15 SEER Central Air Conditioner is a prime example at 15 SEER and 2-stage operation that produces balanced cooling without uncomfortable temperature fluctuations. The spine fin outdoor coil is more effective in transferring heat to more quickly cool your indoor climate.This is a very quiet unit that has a patented whisper-drive technology. The 2-stage compressor is a rarity for a standard-efficiency, low-price central air conditioner. There are less expensive models in this class but they don’t offer the comfort features of this model. You want to consider the Coleman Echelon Series Model AC5B 15 SEER Central Air Conditioner if you live in a moderate to cool climate where high efficiency isn’t required but you still want high performance. The performance features are those typically found in top of the line, high-price models. Value abounds with the Coleman Echelon Series Model AC5B.
Other Top Standard-Efficiency, Low-Price Air Conditioners:
This guide should provide a good starting point in determining the best unit for your home. Don’t let the research stop here. Compare prices, read more and best of luck!