SEER rating are the method used to describe the efficiency of a particular equipment system. SEER stands for "Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio". The systems purchased today typically range from 10.00 SEER to 18.00 SEER. If you have a home and the current system is 10-15 years old, you may have a system that ranges from 6.0 SEER to 10.00 SEER. Of course at the time it was installed, 10.00 SEER was considered "High Efficiency". Today, with all the focus on conservation and energy savings, that "High Efficiency 10.00 SEER" from 10-15 years ago is growing obsolete.
In the chart, the left column indicates operating costs and the gradually decreasing scale shows how with a higher SEER rating (numbers along bottom of chart) the operating costs are reduced. In essence, if you would have spent $100 to operate an 8.00 SEER system, by installing a 14.00 SEER system, your operating costs would drop to $57.00 as opposed to the $100 spent operating the lower efficiency system. These are estimates only, and designed to show that with the higher the SEER rating, the lower the operating costs.
If you have a 6.0 SEER, and you installed a new 12.00 SEER or 13.00 SEER system, you would cut your power consumption in half (in regard to your AC System). Considering that in many cases the central air system represents the largest draw on power in your home, any improvement is a wise decision.
The systems today are very advanced as you move up in the efficiency range. They cost a bit more at initial purchase, but when you calculate the energy savings -vs- dollars spent they pay for themselves fairly quickly.
Let's look at an example:
Current system is 6.0 SEER and power bill runs $150.00 per month.
A 10.00 SEER system is $1500.00 and your power bill may be $125.00 per month.
Upgrade to a 14.00 SEER system for an additional $800.00 and your power bill drops to $90.00 per month.
The price between the 10.00 SEER and the 14.00 SEER is $800.00. The monthly savings equate to $35.00 per month (14.00 SEER -vs- 10.00 SEER). Take the $800.00 difference and divide that by the $35.00 savings and you would pay off the improved system through energy savings in 22.86 months. Less than 2 years.
No matter what, you were going to replace the system with at least a 10.00 SEER system.
As of January 1st 2006 13seer will become the industry standard.
Improved power bill, increased value of home, and your system won't be obsolete in 2 years. Wise decision. Bear in mind, the ratio of savings varies from household to household as people live differently in each case. The example given above is strictly as an example and there is no guarantee that you will see that exact example in your home.
Be sure to check the government energy efficiency label of any equipment you may invest in.