Why HVAC SEER Ratings Don’t Tell the Whole Story

September 7, 2023

When many people buy a car, one of the first questions they ask is about energy efficiency. The same is true for HVAC systems. Ideally, you want an HVAC system that strikes the perfect balance between being energy efficient and providing the right level of comfort for the home. In the HVAC industry, the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is used to help determine the efficiency of the system. While SEER ratings are important, they don’t tell the whole story. Join us as we break down SEER ratings and other important factors that impact HVAC systems. What an HVAC’s SEER Rating Means The SEER rating is one of the important indicators for an HVAC system’s efficiency. Usually, the higher SEER rating an HVAC unit has, the more energy efficient it is. The rating itself is a ratio that divides the average output of cooling used by the amount of energy that session took. It’s important to note that the SEER rating signifies the highest level of efficiency the unit can reach, not necessarily its average efficiency rating. For example, a unit with a SEER rating of 18 will only achieve an 18 when everything is running perfectly. That’s why many HVAC experts think of SEER ratings as a guide principle instead of a hard rule. Any SEER rating you see also isn’t guaranteed. There will always be other factors like a home’s ductwork that can influence an HVAC system’s performance and the length of the run between the AC unit and the air handler. Why SEER Ratings Are Important SEER ratings provide a guideline for not only managing energy costs, but also for finding an ideal level of comfort inside your home. Most air conditioning systems have a SEER rating that falls between 14 and 21. Part of why SEER ratings are important is because they can help you identify other factors that could be making the HVAC system less effective. In theory, the higher the rating, the lower your energy bill should be. While a higher SEER rating usually makes the unit cost more up front, it’s expected to save homeowners money in the long run by using less energy. If your HVAC system is using more energy despite having the right SEER rating, it could be a sign that your ductwork or home insulation need to be looked at. Think of each rating as a starting point to help you find the best HVAC system for your home or project. Going Beyond HVAC SEER Ratings While SEER ratings are an important guideline, energy-efficient HVAC systems need to address other factors as well. Have you ever thought about ductwork having its own efficiency? With traditional HVAC systems, heat or cold air can leak through the walls of the duct, often making the system work harder to meet the desired temperature when conditioned air reaches a room. The smaller ducts in The Unico System are wrapped with insulation and an outer vapor barrier. It’s a large part of the reason why third-party testing showed that The Unico System loses less than 5% of the air volume the unit puts out, compared to the 25% in traditional systems. Another factor that plays a direct role in energy efficiency is lowering humidity. Traditional HVAC systems dump air into a room, creating uneven temperatures. Once the system shuts off, the humidity level starts to rise and causes the system to turn on more frequently to compensate for it. The Unico System removes 30% more humidity thanks to the efficient design of the cooling coils. This means you can set the thermostat higher, and still enjoy the same level of comfort, since the space feels like it’s a lower temperature. With a higher set temperature, the system takes less energy to run, saving you money. To get the highest level of efficiency, The Unico System can work in tandem with a high-SEER-rated HVAC unit. Make Your Home or Project More Energy Efficient with Unico At Unico, we’re dedicated to helping make custom and older homes more energy efficient. If you have a project that could benefit from The Unico System, our design services team is here for support. Let us do the hard part by building out an HVAC system design. Contact our design services team today to get started.

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