SEER: What Is It and What Rating Should You Look For?

SEER: What Is It and What Rating Should You Look For?

As energy expenses are rising, we know that purchasing a new air conditioner is no easy feat as a homeowner. The vast number of available air conditioning units can be overwhelming to choose from. Especially considering that each one has its own unique bells and whistles. 

To make the task a bit less daunting, we recommend looking out for the SEER rating. In fact, the SEER rating should be on the top of your search list when considering units. If you’ve never heard of this term before, Advantage Mechanical Supply is here to guide you in the right direction and ensure you get the best air conditioning unit for your home.

What is the SEER Rating?

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (or Rating) and measures the overall energy efficiency of an HVAC unit. The rating is calculated by dividing the total number of BTUs of heat removed from the air by the energy output of the air conditioner. This then gives you a numerical value. 

This unit of measurement is known as a SEER and usually ranges from 13 to 21. The higher the SEER number, the more energy efficient the air conditioning unit is, not only in cooling down your home but also heating it. 

What is a Good SEER Rating?

The SEER rating reflects the efficiency of the AC unit but that doesn’t mean you should always go for a unit that has the highest SEER rating of 21. There are a few factors to consider when choosing the most efficient AC unit for your specific home including the size of your space and its current ductwork system. 

AC units that have a lower SEER rating (usually any rating below 14.5) operate as single-stage machines and are not equipped to evenly cool your room. If you live in a humid climate, lower SEER-rated AC units are unable to dehumidify the air and can make your home feel more uncomfortable. 

AC units that have a high SEER rating have a two-stage or variable-speed compressor as opposed to the single-stage found in lower-rated units. High-rated machines will also have a variable speed blower that allows them to operate more efficiently. You’ll see these types of AC units ranging from 17 to 21 SEER. 

Not every household needs a high-rated unit. For example, people who live in dry climates with no humidity may choose not to run their AC unit during the day to prevent their home from getting humid. This home will do just fine with a 13 SEER unit. People who live in warmer and more humid climates will want a unit rated around 20 SEER to keep a comfortable temperature in their homes. If your AC unit will most likely run non-stop, a high-rated option will ensure ultimate efficiency. 

Benefits of a High SEER Rating

Owning a high-efficiency AC unit with a high SEER rating can keep your home at a comfortable temperature. It can even save you money on energy costs. Below is a breakdown of the best benefits of owning a high SEER-rated AC unit. 

Better Energy Consumption

A high SEER-rated unit that operates as a dual-stage system is 15% more energy efficient than lower-rated units. This allows users to reduce the monetary costs of keeping their homes cool. You may think a unit that only runs on one speed would use less energy but it actually means it would have to work harder to cool your home down. 

Higher Level of Comfort

Since higher-rated units operate as dual-stage systems, you’ll be able to keep your AC unit running throughout the day. This will promote an even distribution of cool air throughout your home. It will also prevent a build-up of humidity, which makes a home feel hotter than it truly is. Instead of having to turn your AC on every time you need it (like how you would with lower-rated units), you’ll be able to enjoy the convenience and comfort of a machine that runs efficiently all day long. 

Lower Costs

Though higher SEER-rated units may cost more upfront, you’ll save money later when you receive your electricity bill. There are also rebates and tax credits available for homeowners who want to switch to high-rated AC units in their homes because they are so energy efficient. With the energy crisis and chronic fuel consumption, the government plans on incentivizing homeowners to benefit the environment. 

The Cost of a High SEER Rating

The cost of upgrading your current AC unit to a high SEER rating can vary depending on the rating of your current unit. For example, replacing a 14 SEER unit with a 16 SEER unit can run you about $900 to $1,500. While replacing a 14 SEER unit with a 21 SEER unit can cost you anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000. There’s such a large jump in price because the higher-rated units run on a dual-stage system rather than a single-stage system and often have a higher installation fee. 

Dual-stage units can run for hours on end while the single-stage system will run for an hour or two before shutting off. It’s important to consider your climate, current ductwork, and size of your home before upgrading. 

Is a High SEER Rating Worth It?

Calculating the costs of switching to the higher SEER-rated central air conditioners can help you visualize the bigger picture, especially when the upfront cost seems to be too much. As we said before, upgrading your air conditioner unit from a 14 SEER to a 21 SEER can cost an average of $4,000. Use this SEER savings calculator to determine how much you’ll save each year. 

If you have a three-ton cooling system in your home that is rated 14 SEER, it consumes around $1,007 in electricity per year. By upgrading to a 21 SEER unit, it will consume around $672 per year–that’s 33% in savings per year. It pays itself off in less 15 years and you’ll get to enjoy a more efficient system in your home. The energy savings alone are enough to make the switch worth it, especially if you plan on staying in your home for a long time. 

Minimum SEER Rating Requirements

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has set standards for the AC unit’s SEER ratings based on where your home is located. Split-system central air conditioners installed on or after January 1, 2015 must have a SEER rating of 13 if you reside in the North and 14 if you reside in the Southeast or Southwest. 

Before 2015, AC units with lower SEER ratings like 8 and 9 were allowed. The DOE proposed these standards to ensure better efficiency from our units. Not only does this standard save homeowners money on their electricity bills, but it also helps with energy consumption throughout the U.S.

Professional Advice On SEER and More from Advantage Mechanical Supply

As energy costs are rising, switching to a high SEER-rated AC unit should be on your list of home upgrade considerations for the upcoming year. If you’re not sure where to begin, Advantage Mechanical Supply has all the knowledge and supplies you’re looking for. Contact us today to see which SEER rating is best for your home and make a confident decision for your family. 

From heat pumps to air conditioning units, Advantage Mechanical Supply is your go-to point of contact for any of your HVAC queries. Not sure which HVAC unit size is best for you? We’ve got you covered. With our help, you’ll be on your way to a cooler and highly energy-efficient home in no time.
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