- Author: Carol Wirth
As the urban legend goes, someone moved from a smaller older updated house to a larger newly built house where they doubled their square footage and cut their energy bills in half. I am guilty of passing it on in a conversation or two.
Fast forward to the other day, I am a bystander in a conversation about energy bills for the month of July (I know when to keep my mouth shut).
Participant 1: Just out of curiosity, how much was your energy bill last month?
Participant 2: I don’t know, it wasn’t much. It’s just me, and I was barely home. However, I ran into a friend at the store whose son and his family stayed with them for a while. A total of 6 people and her utility bill was somewhere around $900!
Participant 1: We had the same situation, family stayed with us during the month of July. A total 7 people in more square footage, and our bill was $450.
Listener (me): Okay, hold the phone. How exactly can this be?
Participant 1: It’s the higher SEER units that we installed.
Me: I know I act like I know what this means, but what is it?
Participant 1: Seasonal Efficiency something or other…ask Ray.
According to Ray, federal guidelines tell us that all AC units these days have a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating. Homes generally have 13 SEER or less AC units; current building codes mandate the installation of at least 13 SEER units and many people are working with older units.
Nowadays, you can install up to 25 SEER units and some units come equipped with solar panels to help cut down on electricity use. Higher the SEER number means more energy savings and higher the price of the unit.
Obviously, there are other factors involved, such as new or updated home, set temperature of thermostat, exposure to sun, climate conditions.
“The savings reported from customers in Savannah, Georgia, where it is warm nine months out of the year, are hard to ignore,” said Ray. “Basically, you pay more on the front end for the cost of these units, but you make it up down the road in energy savings fairly quickly.”
And since most people have AC units for over ten years, and electricity rates only increase over time, it appears to be a win-win.
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