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  • Purchase a Higher SEER to Reduce Cooling Costs

    SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, is a specification that homeowners should take into account when purchasing a new air conditioner. This number, which ranges from 10 to 30 in newer units, indicates the amount of energy required to meet a specific cooling output. Higher numbers indicate greater efficiency. Homeowners with older air conditioning units may have a SEER of 6 or less, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Upgrading to a higher efficiency unit will save many homeowners money in the long term.

    What level of SEER efficiency is cost-effective for a homeowner though? Our 2.0 ton air conditioners have 14, 15 or 16 SEER ratings available. A customer that wants to purchase a Rheem air conditioner may spend up to $600 more for a SEER 16 as opposed to a SEER 14. Is it worth the extra cost? That depends on the temperature fluctuations in each homeowner's area. Let's look at some examples using the SEER Savings Calculator.

    Our first example customer lives in Phoenix, AZ. His current air conditioner has a SEER rating of 10 and he wants to upgrade. With an upgrade to a SEER 14, he will save 29% of the energy cost of his original air conditioner. However, by upgrading to a SEER 16, the same homeowner can save 38% of the energy cost of his original air conditioner. With the typical energy rates in Phoenix, Arizona, after five years, the SEER 14 will save $932 and the SEER 16 will save $1224. At this point, it doesn't seem like upgrading to the SEER 16 is worth the extra $600. However, air conditioning units are intended to last for 10 to 15 years. After 10 years, the increased cost of the SEER 16 will be offset by the savings in efficiency.

    It makes sense to upgrade to a high efficiency SEER in hot areas that require regular use of the air conditioner. No matter if the homeowner decides between the SEER 14 or the SEER 16, the reduced energy cost will offset the cost of the new air conditioning unit in about 10 years. That's also assuming that the current air conditioning unit is decent with a SEER of 10. Many people have much less efficient units, which means that upgrading saves even more money.

    Homeowners that live in cooler regions may not be as impacted by the SEER ratings. For example, in Seattle WA, there is little need for cooling except for one week a month. Upgrading from a SEER of 10 to a SEER of 14 will still save 29% of the cost, but the cost is much less. Many Seattlites spend only $65/year on cooling. Upgrading will not have such a large impact on the energy cost because the air conditioner is not used that often.

    To determine the right SEER for their needs, homeowners should evaluate how often they cool their homes. The more cooling that is required, the more it makes sense to upgrade to a high efficiency air conditioner.

  • How is a Split System Different from a Package Unit?

    Split System Different than a Packaging system

    Central air conditioners come in two form factors: split systems or packaged units. These systems have significant differences and there are pros and cons associated with each.

    Split Systems
    These systems consist of two main parts: a metal cabinet that sits on a concrete slab outdoors and another cabinet that is installed inside the building, hence the term "split." The indoor cabinet may be inside a closet, basement or in an attic and will often include a furnace. The indoor and outdoor parts of the split system are connected to each other via a refrigerant line.

    The outdoor cabinet houses the compressor and condenser, while the indoor cabinet houses the evaporator.

    Split systems have the potential to be far more efficient (as high as 25 SEER), though installation involves two units instead of one like with a packaged unit. Two units may be more difficult to install than one; it’s also important to note that unlike a packaged unit, a split system cannot be charged until it’s installed. Homeowners should also note that proper installation is crucial for optimal performance. If a split unit isn’t installed properly, this can severely reduce its lifespan.

    Packaged Units
    The air conditioner's main components like the evaporator and condenser are all in one cabinet, and are thus "packaged." Most of the time, the cabinet is located somewhere outside the building, usually on the roof. In some cases, a packaged unit will include electric heating coils or a natural gas furnace.

    Since packaged units are installed outdoors, installation is easier and they save on space in the building. Packaged systems may also work better once installed since they’re assembled in a controlled factory environment and come pre-charged with refrigerant; both factors can ensure optimal function once they are installed. However, their efficiency potential is much less than that of split systems (15 SEER at most). Another drawback comes from the fact that packaged units are placed in a harsh environment; the elements along with wild animals such as raccoons can cause problems. Animals can chew on wires or nest in the cabinet.

    Costs
    Price could be considered another factor. Packaged units are usually slightly more expensive than split systems but since the installation of split systems is more labor intensive, they both wind up costing roughly the same overall. A split system may be less expensive if the home is already equipped with a furnace and the property owner is replacing an older air conditioning unit.

    When choosing between the two, the determining factor may be the building in which the system is to be installed. While larger and newer buildings may have room for the indoor part of a split system, a packaged unit may be the only option in a smaller or older one.

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