Air Conditioners & Energy Efficiency

Much like automobile manufacturers, today’s air conditioner manufacturers are required by law to evaluate and rate their equipment according to its energy efficiency.

EnergyGuide label estimates energy usage, compares similar products and approximate operating costs.

  • This rating is known in the industry as a SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating
  • The higher the SEER, the more efficient the equipment
  • Most new homes with central air come equipped with a standard builder’s model.
  • When replacement becomes necessary, property owners can upgrade air conditioning by specifying a more energy-efficient system
  • High SEER models are generally more expensive, but can easily make up the difference by reducing your home energy (utility) bills over the long run.

    As of January 24th 2006 the federal government has mandated that the minimum air conditioner efficiency requirement be improved from 10 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) to 13 SEER.

  • The higher the SEER number the less electricity is used to cool your home or business
  • The higher SEER does not however cool your home or business any differently, just more efficiently. 
  • The size of unit is what controls how well the air conditioner maintains temperature.
  • With the new minimum, air conditioners are now available with SEERs from 13 to 18 SEER.

EnergyGuide: Compare Efficiency and Operating Costs

All major home appliances must meet the Appliance Standards Program set by the US Department of Energy (DOE). Manufacturers must use standard test procedures developed by DOE to prove the energy use and efficiency of their products.

Test results are printed on yellow EnergyGuide labels, which manufacturers are required to display on many appliances.

  • The EnergyGuide label:
    • Estimates how much energy the appliance uses
    • Compares energy use of similar products
    • Lists approximate annual operating costs
  • Your exact costs will depend on local utility rates and the type and source of your energy.

An ENERGY STAR qualified appliance must carry the EnergyGuide label. EnergyGuide labels frequently note whether the product is ENERGY STAR qualified.

ENERGY STAR: Efficiency Guaranteed

Read "ENERGY STAR in the Home" for more information about energy-efficient appliances and heating and cooling equipment.ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.

Read "ENERGY STAR in the Home" for more information about energy-efficient appliances and equipment.

  • Through its partnerships with more than 12,000 private and public sector organizations, ENERGY STAR delivers the technical information and tools that organizations and consumers need to choose energy-efficient solutions and best management practices.
  • ENERGY STAR has successfully delivered energy and cost savings across the country, saving businesses, organizations, and consumers about $16 billion in 2007 alone.

Read about how the ENERGY STAR program has increased the use of energy-efficient products and practices. Download the report ENERGY STAR – The Power to Protect the Environment through Energy Efficiency (PDF, 272KB, 16 pages, opens in new window)

Read ENERGY STAR in the Home for more information about energy-efficient heating and cooling and a home maintenance checklist to improve your home’s energy efficiency.