There are many things to take into account when you are trying to pick out a new air conditioning system. You want one that will be powerful enough to cool the required space but not so big that it turns your home into a walk in freezer. With so many models and types on the market, it can be difficult to figure out what details you need to pay attention to and what you can ignore.
The seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER) that each air conditioner comes with is not something you should ever disregard, however. This number is a reflection of the overall energy efficiency of the unit and it can have a huge impact on the amount you pay to keep running your air conditioner every month. The higher the SEER of a product, the more energy efficient it is and the lower your monthly bills will be.
Of course, air conditioners with a higher SEER also generally come with a higher price tag, so you will have to weigh the amount of your potential savings against the difference in price of units with different SEERs.
To calculate this, you will need to know exactly how much more energy efficient one model is compared to the others. For instance, when you know that an air conditioner with a SEER of 11 is 7% more efficient than one with a SEER of 10, you are in a better position to evaluate the potential savings.
You will still need to translate this into dollars, of course, because the amount you save with a 7% boost in efficiency will depend largely on how much you typically pay already. If you are only paying around $320 a year with a SEER 10 air conditioner, upgrading to a SEER 11 will only save you about $30. However, if your annual cooling bills are closer to $1000, you will easily save close to $150 with this small upgrade.
SEER numbers go much higher than 10 and 11 too. In fact, the highest you will probably get is a 19.5 SEER, but that will more than cut your cooling bills in half if you are starting with a SEER 10. Still, the actual amount that you will save depends on how much you were paying to begin with, but if your cooling bills are already very high, it may be worth it to invest in an expensive but very high efficiency system.