How Much Can You Save by Upgrading to a High-Efficiency Air Conditioner?

Energy prices across the country are surging, and if market trends hold, there’s very little chance that this will reverse itself or even slow down all that much in the immediate and long-term future. That means homeowners everywhere are looking for ways to save money on their energy bills by reducing overall consumption. If you’re trying to find ways to back off on your energy use, then making some changes to your largest energy consumers in your home is a great place to start. There’s no bigger energy consumer than your heating and cooling system.

With roughly half of the energy the average home uses each year going toward heating and cooling, it’s easy to see how making even smaller adjustments can have a major impact on your monthly utility costs. Upgrading your air conditioner to a more energy-efficient model could be a huge investment in your future and help you save a ton of money in both the short and long-term future. How much? Let’s take a look at some examples to help you see for yourself.

What Is a SEER Rating?

In order to understand energy efficiency, we need to understand how efficiency is measured. In heating and cooling equipment, this is indicated by a system’s Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, or SEER. This value is calculated by comparing the cooling output of a system over a typical cooling season to the amount of energy input the system consumes over the same time frame. The higher the SEER value, the more energy-efficient a system is.

Today, the average SEER rating of an air conditioner on the market is between 13 and 14, though some systems can reach as high as the low-20s for ultra-efficient models. As little as 15 to 20 years ago, the average SEER rating of a system on the market was around 10. If your system is approaching two decades in age, then there’s a good chance that this was probably the original SEER rating for your system.

What a Small SEER Increase Can Mean

How much can a SEER value increase actually save you? The answer is staggering. If we consider an average energy price of around 16 cents per kilowatt-hour (a fairly normal cost in New Jersey), then upgrading an older 10 SEER system to even just a 13 SEER system could yield a 23% savings on energy costs per year. Over five years, that translates to nearly $800 in energy cost savings and more than $1,500 over ten.

But what about a 14 SEER instead of a 13, or even a 16 SEER? Compared to your old 10 SEER system, a 14 SEER system could yield up to 29% in savings. That may not seem like a big increase over 23%, but over five years that savings increases to $957, and just short of $2,000 over a full ten. The long-term savings add up quickly, and grow even faster when you consider that electricity rates will fluctuate over that time. A 16 SEER system can save you up to 38%, resulting in a $1,200 and $2,500 savings over five and ten years respectively.

If we want to put things in numbers that are a bit simpler, this means your current air conditioner would consume around $670 per year in energy costs. Your new system would consume around $419 per year in electricity—a savings of $251 per year that increases year over year as the cost of energy rises.

Is Higher SEER Better?

Naturally, this leads many people to believe that a higher SEER rating always means a better air conditioner. While it’s true that higher SEER ratings can mean greater efficiency and thus better savings, the better, more efficient system may not always be the best choice for your home. There’s another factor you need to consider when installing a new air conditioner, and that’s the cost of your new system. As the SEER rating goes up, the cost of your new system also increases rather substantially. After a certain point, the cost of a new system may be so high that the energy efficiency simply isn’t enough to justify the increased cost. You’ll need to carefully research what that sweet spot is for your home and your budget when considering installing a new air conditioner.

Looking to replace your old, inefficient air conditioner with a new, cost-effective model? Talk to the pros at EnviroSafe Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning, Water Treatment by dialing (856) 878-2806 today.