An air conditioner’s efficiency gradually decreases over time. So, if it’s more than 20 years old, it’s high time to replace it with a new one. But why the need for replacement? Is it the ideal move and when should you do it ? What is the seer seer rating of 20-year old air conditioner? Find out more below.
Aircon SEER Rating Explained
The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating calculates the overall cooling output during a regular season and divides it by the overall electric energy input during the same phase to measure the efficiency of an air conditioner. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the air conditioner is.
Around the world governments have imposed minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) for a range of appliances, including air conditioners. These standards are not static, and typically the MEPS requirements are tightened every 10 to 20 years.
For example, in the USA, MEPS standards for air conditioners have existed since 1987, based on the SEER rating. The most recent tightening of the standard was in 2015 (as of the time time of writing) with a minimum SEER of 13 required. The standard is expected to tighten again soon, in 2023 or 2024.
Whilst all manufacturers are required to meet the minimum standards, many manufacturers also supply “high efficiency” units, that operate with efficiencies well above the MEPS requirements.
What should you do? If you want to minimize operational energy usage and costs, purchasing a “high efficiency” unit with a high SEER rating, is advised. Where an air conditioner is in frequent use, the additional upfront cost should be more than covered by the lower energy costs.
SEER Ratings on Air Conditioners
Our small table shows several brands of air conditioners and their respective SEER ratings. You can also assess the energy efficiency of your air condition yourself. Some websites do not publish the SEER rating, but you can always message them to get more details about the unit of interest. Note that this is only a very small sample, there are thousands of different makes and models of air conditioners!
|Air Conditioners||SEER rating|
|Lennox HVAC XC21||21|
|Heil Air Conditioners HSA5||15|
|Trane Central AC units X314||16|
|American Standard Air Conditioners (AccuComfort Variable Speed Platinum 20 Air Conditioner)||22|
When to Replace an Air Conditioner
Regular maintenance of an air conditioner is not enough to keep it running as efficiently as when you first acquired it. In fact, energy efficiency gradually deteriorates over time. If used heavily, a replacement may be economic after five to ten years. Here are a few indicators that will indicate it’s time.
Not Cooling Enough
You’ll know there’s something wrong with your air conditioner when its not blowing cold air. There are a range of possible causes, including low freon (refrigerant) levels. (Freon is an early trademark of a refrigerant no longer in use, although some people still use the word freon as a generic term for refrigerant).
Unfavorable Air Circulation
If you’ve been using an air conditioner for years, you may notice that it’s no longer pushing air out in a specific direction. Blocked vents can cause poor airflow. Sure, you can hire a technician to diagnose and repair it; but when it becomes too costly, consider buying a new air conditioner..
Air Conditioner Turns Noisy
If you hear a loud grinding sound, it is a warning you that something’s not right. Other forms of unusual sounds in a unit such as squealing, rattling, squeaking, and banging signal the same. Common causes are damaged motor bearings, or a belt not functioning correctly. These could lead to further damage if not given attention.
Constant Leakage From the Unit
While an air conditioner typically causes condensation, excessive water leakage can signal an internal drainage problem. If you notice that pools of water form around your unit, consider getting a professional aircon technician to identify the problem right away. You don’t want mould forming, which poses a danger to your family and guests.
Years of Use and Frequent Repairs
A standard air conditioner lasts for 10-15 years. Some units can last longer, depending upon the user’s care. If you are finding you need to get the unit serviced or fixed more and more often, its time to get a more energy efficient replacement.
Increasing Unit-related Costs
It’s a red flag when your electricity costs are shooting up, even though you’re using the same unit in the same way. This means that your air conditioner is no longer as efficient. Thus, it would behooveshelp if you to considered requesting a specialist to have a look and render the neededaYou may get a specialist in to repair it. If this doesn’t work, buy a replacement. It will save you the money you could have spent on unnecessary repairs and installations.
When You Want to Go Off Gas Heating
In temperate climates natural gas is often used for home heating. As electricity supplies become cleaner around the world, it makes both environmental and financial sense to switch from gas heating, to using reverse cycle air conditioners for heating. Two or three years ago I did just that – and cut my heating costs by around 80%!
How About Other Appliances?
Replacement applies to air conditioners and other appliances at home or even the office. After years of usage, some appliances gradually lose their efficiency and effectiveness (like a computer that begins to crash more and more often as it ages).
As with a faulty air conditioner, consider replacing appliances whose performance is deteriorating if you have the capacity to do so.
On the other hand, many smaller appliances used infrequently don’t use much energy. If they are still performing effectively replacing them for the latest model could just be creating needless waste, with little benefit.
In general, manufacturers of items such as fridges, air conditioners, office equipment (including computers), and lighting, are generally gradually improving their efficiency. Yes, even LED lighting is becoming more efficient! So for items in frequent use, their regular replacement with more efficient units will lead to energy savings and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Is Replacement the Better Choice?
Replacement is the better choice for items in frequent use that are known to use a lot of power – such as an air conditioner. Set aside the sentimental or emotional attachment to that old unit, especially if it’s had a decade of use.
Manufacturers, in response to MEPS regulations and competition, are regularly applying innovations to improve the efficiency of their products. So the newer the unit, the more efficient it is likely to be, and the cheaper it will be to operate.
Back to answering the question, “what is the SERR rating of 20-year old air conditioner?” Well, it probably has a SEER rating under 10. As a heavily used air conditioner in a tropical climate is probably the home’s largest energy user, replacing it is important! And in temperate climates, where space heating is the home’s largest energy user, switching from natural gas heating to electric reverse cycle is also a way of saving money. So replace that old air conditioner with a new, high efficiency reverse cycle unit, and stay comfortable, save money, and cut greenhouse gas pollution.
A final word on refrigerants
The refrigerants used in air conditioners are extremely potent and concentrated greenhouse gases. Typically the global warming potential of the refrigerant in an older residential air conditioner is equivalent to the same amount of greenhouse gas as is produced by a car over a period of half a year!
So when disposing of an old air conditioner, if you care about climate change, insist that the technician “reclaims” the refrigerant in the old unit, and takes to it to a facility which can destroy the refrigerant without it leaking to atmosphere and causing environmental harm. And look to buy a new unit with a low global-warming potential refrigerant.