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SEER Rating, What Is It & Why You Should Care

SEER Rating

Understanding SEER Ratings

A lot of work goes into understanding seer ratings and choosing the right SEER rating for a new air conditioner or heat pump. The task might seem easy on the surface, but it could easily get overwhelming for you. From choosing the right conditioner or pump size for your home to checking energy ratings, there is a lot to consider.

One of the most critical things to keep in mind when it comes to air conditioners is efficiency. With an efficient air conditioner, you can easily cool your home and make for a better, more comfortable environment. It can also improve your indoor air quality.

This is generally what you determine with a SEER rating. These ratings are used to help you determine the output of your air conditioner or heat pump. The SEER rating is a standard fixture in the HVAC industry, and you will easily find the SEER rating for your devices labelled on the packaging.

What Is the SEER Rating?

SEER is actually an acronym that stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. You can calculate the rating with a simple formula: divide the air conditioner’s cooling output (based on the season) by the amount of electricity it uses to get the number of your SEER rating.

The meaning behind these ratings is pretty simple. When an air conditioner has a high SEER rating, it will need less energy to function than one with a low rating. So, if you're looking to save on your utility bills, you generally need an air conditioner with a higher SEER rating.

Typically, most SEER ratings will range from 13 to 26. For an air conditioner to be Energy Star-certified, it will need to have at least a 14.5 SEER rating.

Most old air conditioners will have ratings between 8 and 10. As expected, these require a lot of energy to operate. They might seem fine, but you will notice their effects on your utility bills and energy consumption over time. This is why many recommend that you replace your HVAC system when it gets too old.

If you're wondering about your current SEER rating on your existing ac unit, head over to the cooling system. Look for the yellow and black sticker,  It should read "EnergyGuide".

What SEER Rating Is Best for Me?

As we established, it is generally better to get an air conditioner or heat pump unit with a higher SEER rating. However, determining the ideal rating isn't so clear-cut.

There are many factors that can determine what SEER rating heat pump is perfect for your home. Some of these factors include the size and location of your home, the HVAC company handling the project, the unit's cost, and much more. Let's take a look at a few of these factors to show their significance.

Size and Location of Your Home

The efficiency of your AC unit can be affected by where you live. If you live in a smaller house, then you may not need as much cooling output as a larger house may require. For smaller homes, a smaller SEER rating of 14 or 16 will suffice. Homes with more square footage could require anywhere from 17 all the way up to 26, depending on the size; the bigger the house, the higher your SEER rating.

Location is another important factor to consider, especially in terms of climate. If you live in a cooler climate, you may not need to run your AC very often. For cooler temperatures, a SEER rating of 13 or 14 is sufficient. However, if your home is located in an environment with a hotter climate, you may need to use a unit with a much higher SEER rating. It’s recommended that if you keep your AC on year round, you should have a SEER rating of around 21. 

The HVAC System and Company

As far as installing a new HVAC system goes, there's no one-size-fits-all approach. It's important to examine the home to determine the perfect ac unit size for it. When you just install any unit, you run the risk of getting one that's either too big or too small. Over time, you find that a mismatch between the house and the HVAC unit can reduce the unit's efficiency, resulting in an insufficient SEER rating.

It’s best to find a professional HVAC company to handle the new system and install it. They should be competent and experienced enough to understand the nuances of HVAC system installation. They should also be able to handle the task at hand effectively.

Costs Of New AC Unit

You should also consider the long-term cost of operating the HVAC system. It may be easier to buy a less expensive system with a lower SEER rating since it will save you money upfront. However, you may have higher utility bills with a less efficient air conditioning system. Remember, the higher the SEER rating, the less energy it takes to cool your home. 

Is a Higher SEER Rating Worth It? 

An HVAC system with a higher SEER rating will optimize your use of energy. However, these systems also provide some additional benefits.


  • Comfort: A higher SEER rating makes you more comfortable since the system can perform better. If you live in a warmer region, this is especially critical.
  • Longer cycles: Most systems with higher SEER ratings also come with variable speed compressors and variable speed blowers. Over time, these components ensure that your air conditioner can work for much longer in a cycle. Those with lower SEER ratings have single compressors and blowers that turn off regularly. This will eventually lead to uneven cooling and possibly high humidity in the house.
  • Lower utility costs: Because higher SEER ratings are more efficient, they can lower the costs of your utility bills.
  • Better environmental impact: Consuming lower energy amounts leads to a reduction in burnt fossil fuels, thus better for the environment.
  • The government also regularly offers incentives and rebates for customers who get more energy-efficient home appliances. So, you could be eligible for additional benefits by getting an HVAC system with a high SEER rating.

Common Misconception

However, just because your utility bill is lowered with a higher SEER, that doesn’t mean that you will save money overall — you still have to think about the cost of the unit.

Units with a higher SEER will be more expensive than those with lower SEERs. 

How Much More Efficient Is a 16 SEER vs. 14 SEER?

The 14-SEER and 16-SEER ratings on HVAC systems are generally two of the most common air conditioning systems. So, how do they compare?

An HVAC system with a 16 SEER rating is generally more efficient than one with a 14 SEER rating. It is more efficient over time, provides better cooling in warmer climates, and can be even better for the environment.

Note, however, that 16 SEER-rated HVAC systems can also be more expensive to purchase. As previously stated, the higher SEER — in this case the 16-SEER — will cost more money upfront than the lower 14-SEER. To calculate if the higher rating is worth the cost and will actually save more money in the long run, you need to take into account how long you plan to stay in your home. Call Cooper’s Plumbing & Air If you need help determining the cost difference vs energy savings, we’re happy to help navigate through all the details.

So What Does All of This Mean?

Overall, there is no particular SEER number that is better than all the rest. However, if you have an old 8-SEER unit, replacing it with a 16-SEER unit could significantly reduce the cooling costs of your home and be better for the environment.

Remember to look at your specific needs for your home and location to determine which SEER rating is best for you. Don’t forget to look at both tax credits and manufacturer’s rebates that can bring down the cost of a high SEER HVAC system.

If you have any remaining questions about SEER ratings or are looking to invest in a new HVAC system for your home, contact us today and one of our comfort specialist well help find an energy saving option that is perfect for your home.

Call Cooper's Plumbing & Air Today!