The Standard Seasonal Efficiency Ratio (SEER) for Air conditioners only ten years ago was around 10-13. A top of the line central air conditioner can now hit a SEER of 21, for a Potential savings of 38%. If your unit was not maintained properly, or was an even a lower SEER unit, your savings could be even more. The savings for heat pumps are similar, but heat pumps don’t have quite as high a SEER as air conditioners, but they also started out lower. The changes in heating performance are nice, but nowhere as great as the cooling. Those with gas heating and electric air-conditioning will see the greatest savings in the summer.
Multispeed indoor AND outdoor units are much quieter and save more money by matching the compressor and fan speeds to actual need. Additionally they also control humidity much better than single speed units.
There are also better filters (We like the 4” pleated) that work better but do not need to be changed every month and don’t generate Ozone like some of the Electrostatic unit. UV Lamps in duct work serve to sterilize mold spores and pollen, further reducing potential allergens.
Modern thermostats are now typically programmable for setbacks during off periods and can even cope with larger setbacks without invoking the dreaded Heat-Pump Auxiliary Heat.
How much you will actually save will depend on how you live, your thermostat settings, the age of your equipment and more, but from the chart at left, you can see that the potential savings can be substantial.
As little as 8 years ago, SEER 8 units were still being sold and installed because they were cheap. It was only in 2006 that a minimum allowable SEER was mandated, and that was only 13.
Want to get an idea of what you might save? Take your HIGHEST electric bill and subtract your LOWEST. What is left typically represents your highest cooling cost. Then multiply by the appropriate factor from the table. You may not get that savings every month, but it gets the point across.
Last year, we had our furnace and heat pump units replaced, even though they were just ten years old. Since then, we’ve seen between 30%-50% drops in our electric bills. At this rate, the new system will have paid for itself within five years. Not a bad return on our investment!
Coming Up Next
There have been big changes in Refrigerator and Freezer efficiencies. You may want to unplug that old freezer in the basement after reading what we have learned! Look for that article soon!