Spring is fast approaching and with it comes the inevitable weather change. As temperatures being to creep up in Atlanta, so will air conditioning usage. Before you crank the AC up to full blast, though, it's probably a good idea to know your unit's SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating). It can help to save you quite a bit of money on energy costs!
Like the miles-per-gallon (MPG) rating for your car or truck that determines how much gas you need to travel a particular distance, your home or office AC unit's rating determines the amount of energy input is needed to cool a certain area.
Up until the mid-70s, there was no universal standard for making this determination. Originally, the rating that the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration institute developed the EER didn't account for climate fluctuations throughout the United States. It's not very helpful to have a unit that has a rating meant for, say, New York, when it'll be used exclusively in the South or in the Sunbelt.
To account for this, the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating replaced the EER and the modern system for rating modular AC units was born. A unit's rating is now determined by seasonal BTU (British thermal units) divided by power input (watts), and adjusted for seasonal change.
Current Federal Regulations require all AC units to have a minimum 10 SEER rating (compared to a 6 EER rating prior to 1974). What you should remember is, the higher the rating, the more efficient the unit; an invaluable kernel of knowledge for those combating the oftentimes intense Atlanta summers!
A good rating for Atlanta homeowners is 13 SEER, with a 14 being the minimum number needed to receive the coveted Energy Star rating. Individual need and usage varies, of course, so be sure to either consult your Atlanta-area HVAC specialist or the company that manufactures your unit to determine what's best for you.