Your HVAC contractor is at your home and just gave you the worst news you could hear from him . . . your HVAC system needs to be replaced. One of the first things your HVAC contractor will do is start explaining all of your different options, and you’re probably feeling like your head is going to explode. We understand that it is difficult to process all of this information at the moment you are given the news that your system cannot be repaired. We are going to attack one of these options today, the seasonal energy efficiency ratio, or SEER, with the hopes of making you feel more comfortable about the changes that have affected the industry standards.
These energy efficiency ratios have been changing over the course of the last 25 years. In 1992, the minimum efficiency standard was changed to 10 SEER. These systems were very cost-effective to purchase an effectively reduced the cost of running your system. When the SEER ratings were increased in 2006 from 10 SEER to 13 SEER, the idea behind this was to reduce energy consumption by 30% across the entire country. This was a very aggressive attempt to slow down the USA’s consumption of fossil fuels. You and I both know that this is a necessary step in the fight to make our world greener, but there is always a larger price tag to make this a reality. This price increase comes for many reasons, due to the physical size of these machines being larger and using more materials to produce the equipment. Also, due to the size of the equipment, more trucks are needed to deliver the equipment to the supply houses, driving up the cost of deliveries.
Let’s fast forward to today. That’s right — another change in efficiency hit the market on January 1, 2015. It was not a complicated change; all northern states in America remained 13 SEER, while the southeast and southwest increased to 14 SEER. Here is the reason for the change. With the cooling season being so much longer in the South, the Department of Energy decided to raise the SEER ratio to further decrease our use of fossil fuels in the south. This change affects all residential central air conditioning and heat pump systems in AL, AR, AZ, CA, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, KY, LA, MD, MS, NC, NM, NV, OK, SC, TN, TX, and VA.
Finally I would be doing you an injustice if didn’t inform you about one of the biggest issues that is coming to the surface because of these changes. Here in Charlotte, North Carolina, a large percentage of the HVAC duct systems installed in the last 20 years are undersized and therefore insufficient to support the new high efficiency systems. In a lot of cases, the return ducts need to be increased to allow for proper air flow and optimum performance. Here at JLK Mechanical Heating & Cooling, we have the qualified HVAC contractors to ensure you receive the performance that you paid for.