If you’re about to take the plunge and buy a new home in South Carolina, or you’re an existing homeowner that hasn’t had to upgrade your HVAC system for a while but are now thinking about it, you’re probably not familiar with the phrase “SEER Rating.” This is a relatively recent term, and but it’s an important one for both people in the HVAC service sector like us, and for you, the home owner, who has to pay the bills on utilities.
SEER is basically a new way to look at energy cost and consumption. So what exactly does it mean, and how much does it affect what you, as a home owner will have to pay in heating or cooling bills?
The Meaning Of SEER
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It’s a new unit of measurement created by the Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute. It was specifically created to give an accurate picture of just how much energy an air conditioner needs to consume versus what temperature it is trying to reach by lowering the temperature in a home. As with many rating systems, a low SEER rating is bad, while a high SEER rating is good.
The SEER rating system has been accepted and adopted by the American government. In 2011, the Department of Energy actually set new ratings for what minimum SEER standards new residences had to meet in order to be considered compliant with building codes. The SEER rating, however, is flexible. The SEER rating does take regional needs into account, so what would be required for a good SEER rating in Florida where it is hot all the time, would be different from what SEER rating would be required in Maine, where the majority of the year an air conditioner in the home may not even be required. The actual cooling season duration is an important consideration for determining SEER rating in a given area.
What SEER Means In South Carolina
South Carolina is considered a sub-tropical state, meaning that we enjoy warm summers and mild winters. Temperatures in this state rarely drop to freezing in winter, but we do get very hot here. This is not helped by the humidity that can make air feel even more uncomfortable than it already is with the heat. This combination of heat and humidity means that most home, work, commercial and retail environments in the state require some kind of air conditioning system to allow people to conduct their activities in comfort, and not compromise delicate electronic equipment such as computers, that need cooler, drier environments in order to function.
So SEER is especially important for people living and working in this state because we do have a fairly heavy reliance on A/C systems to maintain comfort levels. As of 2015, the government issued more regulations for SEER ratings for south eastern states, and South Carolina is on that list. According to the new regulation, new, split system central air conditioners installed in homes must have a SEER rating of at least 14.
For a better sense of comparison, if you have an air conditioning system that is 10 years old or more, it may actually be twice as inefficient as modern air conditioners. Older air conditioners, if measured by modern SEER standards, usually fall into the single digits, with a score sitting somewhere between 7-9, and that would have been when the air conditioner was brand new. If its performance has degraded over the years, that SEER rating could be lower still, and pretty much a “fail” by today’s modern efficiency requirements.
Modern SEER Requirements
With the new 2015 regulations, even older Energy Star rated air conditioners may no longer be considered compliant modern energy efficiency requirements. Many of the older Energy Star rated products had a SEER rating of 13, bringing them just under last year’s changes.
What this means is that, going forward, if you’re considering an upgrade to your A/C system, or you’re buying a brand new, just-constructed home which should, in theory, be compliant, with modern regulations, you will need to ensure that your SEER rating is at least 14 in the state of South Carolina.
This is why it’s important to make sure that if you’re getting a modern A/C system for your home, you should get a consultation from someone knowledgeable about energy efficiency. C & C Meyers Heating & A/C has had decades of experience servicing the Mt. Pleasant area, and, as a proudly local business, we know exactly what kind of climate residents of South Carolina face all year round.
When you engage experienced HVAC services like us, we’re more than happy to provide a consultation that looks at your home situation, find out exactly what you want in your air conditioning, and give you what you need in a way that is compliant with modern SEER requirements and will give you the most savings on your utilities by cooling your home efficiently with minimal energy consumption and maximum cooling performance. We’re not out to give you the most expensive solution for your home cooling requirements, we’re committed to giving you the most value and performance for your unique home needs.