What is a SEER rating on your air conditioner or heat pump? SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, and it guides consumers to purchase the best air conditioner or heat pump for their home or business.

The SEER measures air conditioning and heat pump cooling efficiency, which is calculated by the cooling output for a typical cooling season divided by the total electric energy input during the same time frame. A SEER rating is a maximum efficiency rating, similar to the miles per gallon for your car. For example, your car might get 28 miles per gallon on the highway, but if you’re stuck in city traffic it could be lower. If your air conditioner is 21 SEER, that’s its maximum efficiency.

By decree of the US Department of Energy, all air conditioners sold in the US on or after January 1, 2006, must have a minimum SEER rating of 13. Energy Star appliances must have a rating of 14.

Modern air conditioners have a SEER value ranging from 13 or 14 SEER as a minimum (depending on your state’s requirements), to a maximum of 21 or 25 SEER (based on modern technology limitations).

Older air conditioners were rated at around 8 or 9 SEER. So in actuality, a modern 14 SEER unit is still drastically more efficient than an older unit you might be replacing and may be plenty for your needs.

Now, in the case of saving energy, a 21 SEER AC will provide cheaper monthly energy bills than a 14 SEER unit. But even with the monthly savings, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever recoup the higher upfront cost of the unit.

Why?

Depending on your climate, most air conditioners last 15-20 years. If you’re in a warmer climate like Florida, an average lifespan would be more around 10 years. So depending on the use your unit will have, with the upfront expense vs savings on your energy bill, it may not save you much in the long run if you’re deciding between investing in a 16 SEER or a 21 SEER unit, if the unit is going to last about a decade.

Besides money, however, a higher SEER also means greater comfort.

Higher SEER units often come with 2 components that lead to greater indoor comfort:

2-stage compressor
Variable-speed blower

These features lead to even cooling and lower humidity levels in your home, giving you more comfortable air to live in.

If you have questions about SEER ratings and your HVAC system or air-conditioning unit, give us a call! We can answer your questions and explain differences among brands and what might suit depending on your specific needs.

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