Improving Central Air Conditioner Performance Ratings: A Review of Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratings (SEER), Tasks 1.1 and 1.4 of Closing the Gap: Getting Full Performance from Residential Central Air Conditioners

Secondary Author(s)

Henderson Jr., Hugh; Shirey III, Don B.; Nadel, Steven

Report Number



Residential; Buildings; HVAC; Energy Efficiency


U.S. law requires that the energy efficiency of residential air conditioners (and heat pumps in the cooling mode) be measured by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). SEER is intended to provide a representative ranking or measure of seasonal efficiency, so it is based on average U.S. climate conditions. SEER has been a good-faith effort to develop a seasonal efficiency indicator that would be easy for consumers to use, and would provide reliable comparative information. It was originally intended to provide a single metric to rank or compare equipment, not an absolute measure of energy consumption. Since its initial development in 1979, SEER is now a quarter century old.The next round of standard-setting will not take place for several years. In this context, our work attempts to review what the manufacturers and the efficiency community have learned about the relationship between the SEER rating method and field performance, to suggest alternatives that might work better, to examine the implications of the most promising alternatives, and to make recommendations for new approaches, if warranted. http://www.aceee.org/pubs/a071.htm

Date Published



Buildings - Energy Efficiency; Buildings - HVAC; Buildings - Residential

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