So the Browns had 3 first round picks this year. That sounds pretty good right? Yet they didn’t win a single game. Since 2012, the Browns have had 11 First Round draft picks. That’s nearly 2 a year. With all of that talent you would think they could string together a winning season, at the very least a single victory, but no... it’s been a decade since they have. Why? Well it doesn’t matter how great any 1 player is, it’s a team effort. Same applies for your cooling system.
How so? Hypothetically or real life, you just bought this super high tech, high efficient unit. You have been saving for years seeking the most opportune time to jump on the thought of better comfort combined with lower monthly bills. The system is installed and you sit back and soak up that fresh air being pushed through by none other than that new shiny box. Fast forward a few months and your bills haven’t changed and your comfort change is minimal contrary to everything you were told during the sales process.
Were you just scammed? Well maybe, I don’t know who you bought from but the more likely scenario is that the components surrounding the system cannot support its efficiency. The biggest factor… your ductwork. The other is the charge on your new system.
Understanding SEER isn't complicated, but the number doesn't always translate to your home
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. A higher SEER translates to a more efficient system. There are 4 major aspects that effect this rating; Airflow, Duct Tightness, Charge and Size of System.
Airflow – When a system has to overcompensate to push air through the system then it is obviously not going to be as efficient as it was designed or could perform. Just like the D-line going into the Mile High Stadium against Peyton and wearing down as the offense is in a no huddle drive. The defense is huffing, puffing and on its heels. Trying to breathe and get the oxygen to their muscles, they breathe harder than normal to compensate. Even professional athletes who train day in and day out will not perform at their best when they are being pushed like this. Why would you expect a system designed to perform with proper airflow to perform the same under other circumstances?
Tight Ducts – A potential contributor to poor airflow other than pinched sections of flex duct, non-compatible internals such as an air handler or an excessively dirty filter could be your duct system is simply leaky. For this comparison, we take an O-line and a Quarterback. I don’t care how good Tom Brady may be, if his offensive line were as leaky as your duct work (the DOE says 30-40% is the average, Google it if you don’t believe me) then I guarantee he would not have the statistics he has. Just picture how an offensive line should look (5 or 6 across unless in goal line) and now remove 2 of those lineman… That is a recipe for disaster.
Charge – The refrigerant in your AC must be charged correctly. Even if it is a new unit, the installer has to charge your system. Unfortunately, many systems aren’t charged correctly because of many reasons. It’s a procedure that has various methods of completing but some of those methods aren’t all that reliable. Some studies out there find that 7 out of 10 AC units are improperly charged. This is like the sports drink coolers on the sidelines. These drinks need to be properly blended to include the optimal electrolytes and other good minerals so that the athletes can maintain their performance levels. Water alone (AKA under charged) is not enough to keep up with the workload and too much of the mix (AKA overcharged) will have too much sugar and can lead to things like fatigue or upset the stomachs of those drinking. For this reason, it is crucial that we get the amount correct.
Size – While the other 3 factors may not be things the majority of homeowners consider with a new or current unit, I can say this factor is the one that the majority is aware of but doesn’t understand. What I mean is, a homeowner is visually sees the system and draws an assumption that bigger is better. That is what we have been taught after all. That’s not the case here. Your system needs to be sized to match your home. A system that is too big will no doubt run less and with that, it will not adequately cool all rooms. Why you ask? Well, since the system is pumping at a higher rate and cooling the home faster, it also shuts down faster. This can cause certain rooms in your home that are further down the line from your AC unit to not cool to the intended temperature since the room with the thermostat may cool off first. And by not having a proper run time it will not serve its second purpose of dehumidifying the air in the home. It needs to run longer to properly move condensed moisture to the outside of the home. An oversized unit will start up and stop many more times than a properly sized machine which means more wear and tear. Even the most athletic running backs need to take a break with all the starting and stopping; the wear and tear is too much to go every down. And an undersized unit is like putting your Linebacker at Left Guard; he is going to have to work much harder to compensate for difference in size, he may be able to get the job done but very ineffectively and will face many problems. A right sized system will run long enough to dehumidify the home, won’t have the constant start and stop to break it down, with a longer run time than the oversized unit all of your rooms will be cool... oh and a proper sized unit will be cheaper than an oversized unit. Why pay more to get no benefit?
When each of these 4 factors are perfect, because we all know manufactures put a system under perfect circumstances when they test it, then you will achieve the SEER rating labelled. The further you get from this level of perfection, the greater impact to your system. Don't just buy the best without first addressing the team around it because as we say in the military, "you are only as strong as your weakest link." You can't just remove that link and throw it to the side as though it never existed. You need to take the time to address it and in doing so, strengthen the entire chain.
So when you are watching the big game and plays go well or go very wrong, think of your AC system and how it compares. Just kidding! Go enjoy the game. I for one am rooting for anyone other than that 1 team who seems to always be in it or winning it.
Is Tom Brady the G.O.A.T.? Or will the underdogs prevail? What are your thoughts?
After it’s all over though, I seriously suggest you consider getting your AC / Furnace unit looked at if you are experiencing problems such as lower than expected efficiency or comfort. And even if you think your system is just fine, your bills are affordable, the system has no problems running… it doesn’t hurt to verify that your system couldn’t be running even better which will only put money right back in your pocket.