Shopping for a new central air conditioner without first familiarizing yourself with air conditioner ratings is akin to going hiking barefoot. You’re not going to get very far. Ratings that show an air conditioning system’s cooling efficiency (how well the system converts electricity into cooling) will assist you in selecting the best AC for your California area home.
Regarding SEER Ratings
The split-system AC or heat pump is the most common residential central cooling system in Southern California (and the United States as a whole). It has one component inside the house (the air handler/evaporator coil) and one outside (the condenser/compressor). Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio is the primary efficiency rating for split-systems (SEER). The number, which ranges from 13 to 25 in the United States, is calculated by dividing cooling output by the electrical power consumed by the equipment. The greater the number, the more efficient the air conditioner or heat pump.
What Does Energy Star Mean in the Case of Air Conditioners?
Manufacturers in California are prohibited from selling split-system air conditioners with SEER ratings less than 14. Heat pump air conditioners must have a SEER of at least 15. To be eligible for the Energy Star, the federal government’s energy-efficiency certification, a split system air conditioner and heat pump must have a SEER of 15 or higher.
Higher efficiency, however, comes at a cost, with incremental increases in SEER costing hundreds of dollars. When shopping for a new central air conditioner, a homeowner should consider how much use they expect to get out of their new cooling system. A family that expects to stay in the same house for the foreseeable future should consider investing in a high-SEER air conditioner or heat pump.
The lower operating costs will eventually pay for the additional upfront cost. However, someone who does not intend to stay in the same house for more than a few years or who travels frequently is probably better off with a low-end SEER system. Before deciding on a new AC system, consult with a reputable Professional.