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The Best SEER Rating for Gresham Homeowners

May 21st, 2024 | 5 min read

By Daphne Hunt

A panoramic view of the Portland air tram in action.

With summer right around the corner and temperatures in Gresham already reaching 90 degrees and higher, you’ve probably noticed Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio ratings, or SEER ratings, are highly advertised on every air conditioner you look at, whether in stores or online. A close-up of a shiny metalic HVAC fan vent.

But what exactly is a SEER rating, and why should it matter to you? 

The short of it is the higher the rating, the more efficient your AC unit is, which means the more you save on utility bills – but what rating should you strive for as a Gresham resident

We understand that navigating these technical details can be confusing, especially for homeowners with no prior HVAC experience. With over 16 years of experience serving the Gresham area, our technicians at A&E Plumbing, Heating and Air understand how SEER ratings can drastically decrease your monthly expenses by increasing your unit’s efficiency. Our goal is to ensure you’re saving as much as possible on your HVAC.

In this article, we’ll delve into what SEER ratings are, why they matter, and how to choose the best SEER rating for your Gresham home to ensure maximum efficiency and comfort during the hottest months.

What is a SEER Rating?

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It measures the cooling efficiency of an air conditioner over an entire cooling season. Essentially, it’s a ratio of the cooling output (measured in BTUs) divided by the energy consumed (measured in watt-hours). The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the unit is at converting energy into cool air.A&E SEER Rating Scale

How SEER Ratings Work

To put it simply, a higher SEER rating means an air conditioner uses less energy to cool your home. For example, an air conditioner with a SEER rating of 20 is twice as efficient as one with a SEER rating of 10. This efficiency translates to lower energy bills, making a significant impact during the hot summer months when cooling needs are at their peak.

Confused? We’ve been there. 

Here’s a different way to look at it:

Imagine there are two kids, Alex and Jamie, who both love making lemonade on hot days. They use their lemonade stands to see who can make the most lemonade with the least amount of lemons.Lemonade stand with orange ribbon across the front to draw attention and customers.

Alex's Lemonade Stand:

  • Alex makes 100 cups of lemonade using 10 lemons.
  • So, Alex's efficiency is 100 cups / 10 lemons = 10 cups per lemon.

Jamie's Lemonade Stand:

  • Jamie makes 100 cups of lemonade using 5 lemons.
  • So, Jamie's efficiency is 100 cups / 5 lemons = 20 cups per lemon.

 

Relating to SEER

Now, let's think of the cups of lemonade as the cool air an air conditioner makes, and the lemons as the energy it uses (measured in watt-hours).

-Cooling Output (cups of lemonade) = BTUs (cool air)
-Energy Consumed (lemons) = watt-hours (electricity)Sunflowers sit on an AC unit with a red brick back-drop.

Real-Time Example

Let’s say we have two air conditioners:

Air Conditioner A:

  • It produces 60,000 BTUs of cooling over the summer.
  • It uses 6,000 watt-hours of energy.
SEER Rating for Air Conditioner A:

SEER = 60,000 BTUs / 6,000 watt-hours = 10

Air Conditioner B:

  • It also produces 60,000 BTUs of cooling over the summer.
  • But it only uses 3,000 watt-hours of energy.
SEER Rating for Air Conditioner B:

SEER = 60,000 BTUs / 3,000 watt-hours = 20

What This Means

Air Conditioner A is like Alex: it’s less efficient because it needs more energy (lemons) to produce the same amount of cooling (lemonade).

Air Conditioner B is like Jamie: it’s more efficient because it uses less energy (lemons) to produce the same amount of cooling (lemonade).Mom and daughter dancing in a temperature-regulated room while doing chores, a clear indication that their HVAC is running smoothly.

So, the higher the SEER rating, like Jamie's 20 cups per lemon, the better the air conditioner is at turning energy into cool air. This means Air Conditioner B, with a SEER rating of 20, is more efficient than Air Conditioner A, which has a SEER rating of 10.

By choosing an air conditioner with a higher SEER rating, you’re getting more cool air for less energy, just like getting more lemonade with fewer lemons!

Determining the Best SEER Rating for Your Gresham Home

Choosing the right SEER rating for your air conditioner is crucial for ensuring comfort, energy efficiency, and cost-effectiveness in your home. The ideal SEER rating for your Gresham home depends on several factors, including your budget, home size, and cooling needs. Here’s a detailed look at when different SEER ratings would be most appropriate.

SEER 13-14: Minimum Efficiency

Best For:

Budget-Conscious Homeowners: If you’re looking for the most affordable option upfront, units with SEER ratings of 13-14 are the way to go. These units meet the minimum efficiency standards and are less expensive to purchase and install.

Moderate Cooling Needs: Homes that don’t experience extreme heat or are only occupied during certain times of the year can benefit from these units. For example, a vacation home or a small apartment might not require a high-efficiency unit.

Example:

Small Apartment or Studio: For a one-bedroom apartment or studio where the cooling demands are not high, a SEER 13-14 unit can provide adequate comfort without a high initial investment.

SEER 15-17: Standard Efficiency

Best For:

Average Cooling Demands: Homes that have moderate to high cooling needs but also want a good balance between upfront cost and energy savings should consider SEER 15-17 units.

Homeowners Planning to Stay for Several Years: If you plan to stay in your home for a long time, the moderate increase in initial cost can be offset by the savings on energy bills over the years.

Example:

Typical Family Home: A three-bedroom home with moderate cooling needs will benefit from a SEER 15-17 unit, offering a balance of efficiency and cost without a significant upfront expense.

SEER 18-20: High Efficiency

Best For:

Larger Homes: Bigger homes with more extensive cooling requirements can save significantly on energy bills with high-efficiency units. These homes benefit from the substantial energy savings provided by SEER 18-20 units.

Homeowners Looking for Long-Term Savings: If you’re planning to stay in your home for the long haul, investing in a high-efficiency unit will provide greater energy savings and lower operating costs over time.

Example:

Large Family Home: A large family home with multiple bedrooms and living areas, particularly those with open floor plans, will see significant benefits from a SEER 18-20 unit. These units ensure efficient cooling throughout the entire home, even during peak usage times.

SEER 21+: Premium Efficiency

Best For:

Environmentally Conscious Homeowners: Those who prioritize reducing their carbon footprint and contributing to environmental sustainability should consider SEER 21+ units. These units are the most efficient and use the least amount of energy.

Maximum Comfort and Performance: Homeowners who seek the highest level of comfort, with advanced features like variable speed compressors and enhanced humidity control, will find SEER 21+ units ideal.

Example:

Luxury Home: A high-end, luxury home where the residents expect top-tier comfort and are willing to invest in the best technology will benefit from a SEER 21+ unit. These units offer unparalleled efficiency and performance, ensuring the home remains comfortable while minimizing energy consumption.

How A&E Plumbing, Heating and Air Can Help Find Your Perfect SEER Rating

A&E technician opening the door of a bright red A&E company van.Understanding SEER ratings is essential for Gresham homeowners looking to optimize their air conditioning systems, especially as Oregon summer temperatures rise. A higher SEER rating means better energy efficiency, lower utility bills, and enhanced home comfort. By evaluating your home’s specific needs and considering both initial costs and long-term savings, you can choose the best SEER rating for your air conditioner.

At A&E Plumbing, Heating and Air, with over 16 years of experience serving the Gresham area, we pride ourselves on helping homeowners just like you make informed decisions about your home’s cooling system. Even if you don’t choose to work with us, we’re always here to answer your questions and provide guidance. Reach out today to learn more about some of the high-efficiency air conditioning units we recommend, and how they can keep your home comfortable all summer long.

Daphne Hunt

Daphne Hunt, an avid writer with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Mass Communication, thrives on crafting articles and fiction from her quiet home in The Dalles, Oregon, where she lives with her partner and three kids.