A SEER rating is a maximum efficiency rating. You can think of it as similar to your vehicle’s maximum miles per gallon of gas. The manufacturer says your truck can get 26 highway miles per gallon, but if you’re stuck in stop and go traffic, it could be considerably lower. If your air conditioner is 21 SEER, that’s its maximum efficiency. So, just like a high MPG, a higher SEER rating means greater energy efficiency. Most modern air conditioners have a SEER that ranges from 13 to 21. A SEER of 13 is the minimum standard for air conditioners.

Just to be clear, we’re not talking about a seer (a person who is supposed to be able, through supernatural insight, to see what the future holds), but rather a SEER. It’s an indicator of air conditioner and heat pump cooling efficiency. Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio is defined by the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute; this standard was created in 2008. This ratio indicates the cooling output of an air conditioner over a typical cooling season, divided by the energy it uses in watt-hours. It is calculated using a constant indoor temperature and a variety of outdoor temperatures ranging from 60 degrees to 100+.

Keep in mind that a high SEER rating isn’t the only factor when determining the efficiency of your cooling system. Other variables, including size of home or office and the condition of the ductwork (i.e., leaks), affect energy consumption. If you think your system’s efficiency is less than par, especially if it’s more than 20 years old, Goettl’s highly trained technicians (“seers”) can help diagnose and evaluate your need for a higher SEER unit.

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