How to Green Up Your Home – a look at Central Air Conditioners and SEER Ratings

17 May 2011

Today’s guest post comes from WebHVAC –  while we aren’t quite ready for air conditioner season in Michigan it isn’t far off.

When it comes to green initiatives in the modern day, everyone seems to want to jump on the bandwagon.  And for good reason, as the state of the world’s natural resources is in a precarious position and any way that we can help ease that situation helps.  For the majority of people, the place where they can have the greatest impact is the decisions they make at home.  As posted on this site on April 4, going away from plastic bags is one real way that the everyday American can impact the environment.  Another way is to look at the decisions we make when it is time to replace our HVAC systems.  When it comes to understanding the ratings behind efficiency measures on HVAC systems things get a bit fuzzy.  HVAC systems last for decades and therefore very few people are completely up to speed on what is the latest and greatest in terms of efficiency and how to measure one against another.

How SEER Ratings Impact Energy Usage in Central Air Conditioners

When it comes to measuring how well an AC unit used energy, the standard is SEER.  SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.  It is a measurement, done by the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, that measures the amount of energy required to produce the BTUs necessary for an entire cooling season.  It sounds more complicated than it really is.  The higher the SEER rating, the better it uses energy in cooling your home.  To be fair, it has an impact on central air conditioner prices as the higher the SEER rating, the more expensive the unit, but a portion of that comes back every year in energy savings.  How much energy depends on your location, how much cooling is required in a typical season and the size of the space you are cooling.  The ratings for heat pumps and central air conditions are the same and they range in value from 13 SEER to 18 SEER (as high as 23 SEER for those really wanting to stretch the “greenness” of their cooling systems!). 

If you take a typical home in Michigan that is 3,000 square feet you are looking to save about $175 a year assuming $0.124 per KWhr pricing.

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