New AC Standards

The U.S. Department of Energy enacted standards for air conditioners that will help increase the energy efficiency of air conditioners. This upgrade is just the latest in a series of improvements to air conditioning equipment. Today’s systems are up to 50 percent more efficient than the equipment available a generation ago.

The efficiency of central air conditioners is rated by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The higher the SEER number, the less electricity the equipment will use to cool your home. Federal standards require manufacturers to provide equipment that meets minimum a SEER rating, and for many years that minimum was SEER 10. After January 2006, the minimum rating is SEER 13. Buyers of this new equipment will benefit from a 30 percent increase in efficiency, and they will see a corresponding decrease in their summer electric bill.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the change to SEER 13 will save 4.2 quadrillion BTUs of energy between 2006 and 2030. As a point of perspective, this is equivalent to the annual energy use of 26 million U.S. households, with a total savings to consumers of approximately $1 billion by 2020.

The new SEER 13 equipment is slightly more expensive to purchase, but studies show that the average U.S. family should recoup their investment within three and a half years. For more information about efficient air conditioners, go to the Energy Star® web site: