Knowing the ENERGY STAR, CEE, SEER, and EER rating meanings can make all the difference between wasting or saving electricity. 

Kiwi Energy wants to give you all the information you’re seeking about good energy efficiency ratings for household appliances so you can make the best choice for your home and the planet.

ENERGY STAR Meaning for Appliances

ENERGY STAR is a program created by the EPA and DOE. Its purpose is to give certain products an ENERGY STAR title if they meet or exceed standard appliance performance. However, they must use less energy to do so.

For example, an ENERGY STAR furnace is at least 15% more efficient than the minimum federal standard. Therefore, purchasing an appliance with the ENERGY STAR label means you’re getting a quality product that’s better for the environment and your utility bill.

CEE Rating Meaning for Appliances

A CEE (the Consortium of Energy Efficiency) rating is a set of voluntary energy performance tiers appliance manufacturers may choose to meet. A product that is highly rated by both ENERGY STAR and CEE is extremely energy-efficient, above-and-beyond minimum federal standards.

How Is CEE Measured?

The CEE tiers measure and rate appliances according to:

  • Per unit savings above the preceding tier
  • New heights of efficiency and performance 

What Is a Good CEE?

The higher the CEE tier, the more efficient the appliance:

  • CEE Tier 1: To meet this level, a product must qualify as an ENERGY STAR product. 
  • CEE Tiers 2, 3, and 4: Meeting these levels means a product is more efficient than ENERGY STAR’S minimum requirements.
  • CEE Advanced Tier: This means a product meets ENERGY STAR’S Most Efficient ranking.

SEER Rating Meaning for Central HVAC Systems

A SEER rating (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) calculates the average energy efficiency of your central HVAC system for seasonal use. You can think of SEER for your HVAC unit like your car’s miles per gallon. So the higher the SEER, the higher its energy efficiency.

How Is SEER Measured?

SEER is measured by dividing the HVAC system’s cooling output (British Thermal Units or BTUs cooled down or taken out of the air) over a particular season by the total energy used in that same period (watt-hours). Here’s how to do that:

  1. Find your air conditioner’s BTUs cooled per hour and its number of watts used per hour. Both are listed on the unit or in its owner’s manual.
  2. Divide the BTUs (from step 2) by the number of watts-hours (from step 3) to get the air conditioner’s SEER rating.

For example:

Your central air unit has a capacity of cooling 56,000 BTU/H. Its number of watts p/hr is 3,200. So, its SEER rating is 17.5 (56,000/3,200). 

What Is a Good SEER?

A higher SEER means higher efficiency. For an HVAC unit, the minimum standard SEER rating is 13. To be ENERGY STAR qualified, the unit must have a 14.5 SEER rating. The maximum SEER rating is 21. 

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EER Rating Meaning for Standalone Room Air Conditioners

EER means Energy Efficiency Ratio. This ratio indicates the energy efficiency of a standalone air conditioner unit during the hottest time of the year. The higher the ratio (rating), the less energy is required to operate it.

How Is EER Measured?

Using the Energy Efficiency Ratio, energy efficiency is measured by dividing the unit’s BTU rating by its wattage. 

So, if a portable 13,000-BTU air conditioner unit uses 1,250 watts, it has an EER rating of 10.4 (13,000/1,250 = 10.4).

What Is a Good Energy Efficiency Rating?

Let’s compare the above example for a portable window AC unit to an Energy Star unit’s EER rating:

Energy Star’s top pick for a window air conditioner unit features 10,100 BTU and uses 482.5 watts for an EER rating of 20.9 (10,100/482.5). That’s twice as high as the standard option. In other words, this unit uses half as much energy as our portable air conditioner example.

Remember, a higher energy efficiency rating means more energy efficiency. 

The Benefits of Buying Energy-Efficient Appliances

You’ll enjoy many benefits from energy-efficient appliances, like:

  • More affordable utility bills
  • Higher performance
  • Longer-lasting hardware 
  • Less noise 
  • A lower carbon footprint

The best part is how easy it is to get all these benefits. All it takes is a quick look at a product’s specs when making your buying decision. 

How Do You Know If an Appliance is Energy-Efficient?

Every household standalone air conditioner appliance sold in the U.S. meets the DOE’s energy and water conservations standards, but the voluntary ENERGY STAR program promotes appliances that meet higher-than-minimum energy standards. In other words, ENERGY STAR products use less energy than standard ones.

Are Energy Star appliances worth it? Yes, if they’re actually running efficiently. You can measure and monitor over time the power usage of an appliance. Simply plug a power usage monitor into the wall outlet and plug your appliance into the monitor. It’ll track how much energy is used daily, weekly, and monthly. Another option is to ask your power company to install a digital electric meter that sends usage data to them to track. 

Either way, if you find spikes in power usage, you can take action right away so you don’t waste electricity.

15+ Home Energy Savings Tips & Tools

Now that you know ENERGY STAR, CEE, SEER, and EER rating meanings, you can easily choose energy-efficient appliances when the time comes to replace your old ones. 

Learn plenty of other ways to save energy by reading Kiwi Energy’s 15+ Home Energy Savings Tips & Tools!