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What Do A/C Ratings Mean?

With energy costs sure to rise in coming years, energy efficiency has become a prime consideration for homeowners looking to replace their home’s central air conditioning system. Luckily, air conditioner ratings are available that show how well a particular cooling system converts electricity into cooling. Take these ratings seriously so you don’t end up with an inefficient A/C that costs a lot to operate while not adequately cooling your home.

When shopping for a central A/C system, the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is the most important air conditioner rating to consider. SEER is simply the number you get by dividing the cooling output of a central A/C by the kilowatts of electricity that goes into it. A higher number represents greater efficiency, though it also typically means a higher-cost system. As with anything else, you get what you pay for when upgrading your home’s cooling system.

In Canada, central split-system air conditioners must have a SEER number of at least 13. While the numbers go as high as 21, you don’t necessarily need to invest in the very highest SEER-rated air conditioner, especially in our Alberta climate with its relatively mild summers.

However, it does make sense to look for the international hallmark of energy efficiency, the Energy Star, when buying a new central cooling system. Energy Star-qualified central air conditioners consume up to 20 percent less energy than standard new central A/Cs.

If your home has a central air conditioner that’s 10-15 years old, it likely only has a SEER number of 6 or less. Upgrading to a modern high-efficiency model will produce electric bills 30-40 percent lower than you’re accustomed to.

These modern central A/Cs achieve their high air conditioner ratings by incorporating advanced features such as variable speed blower motors and modulating or two-stage compressors. You can achieve even more cooling efficiency by taking basic home weatherization steps such as sealing air leaks and upgrading insulation.

If you’d like to discuss replacing your Calgary-area home’s old central air conditioner with a high-efficiency cooling system, please contact us at Arpi’s Industries.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Calgary, Alberta about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about air conditioner ratings and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide.

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