If you’ve been shopping around for a new air conditioner or heat pump for your home, chances are that you’ve come across the term “SEER.” While many homeowners know that SEER has something to do with a cooling unit’s efficiency, more clarification is needed on how SEER ratings affect you and your energy usage. In doing so, you’ll be able to make informed purchasing decisions that will ensure budget-friendly comfort for your home.
What Is A SEER Rating?
SEER stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio, a rating that scores an air conditioner or heat pump as it pertains to efficient, energy-friendly functions. A cooling system that is not efficient will quickly drive up energy costs or even fail to cool your home well. Looking for a baseline SEER rating can help you determine which types of units are ideal for your home.
To calculate a SEER rating, product manufacturers divide system output in a given cooling season by the total amount of energy that it used. The higher the rating, the more efficient the system is in regulating your home. Three main categories of efficiency are as follows:
- SEER rated 13-16: Entry-level efficiency
- SEER rated 16-18: Mid-efficiency
- SEER rated 20+: High efficiency output
National Efficiency Standards
The United States Department of Energy requires systems to be in compliance with a baseline efficiency rating of at least 13, but certain states have varying requirements when it comes to determining the minimum SEER rating on a cooling unit.
Northern states require that air conditioners manufactured after 2015 have a minimum SEER rating of 13, but southern states require air conditions to be rated at least 14 to be considered in compliance. While these most recent standards don’t affect an air conditioner that is already installed in your home, you’ll need to be mindful of purchases made after January 1, 2023.
The overall goal for setting these standards is ultimately to save homeowners money and decrease energy use. Interestingly, the Department of Energy estimates that homes across the country could save up to $12.2 billion on energy costs in the next 20 years.
What Is Considered a Good SEER Rating?
A good rating depends largely on you and your home’s needs. Someone living in a hot, humid climate may need an air conditioning system with a high-efficiency output of 16-18, while those who live in temperate or cold climates could get by with a SEER rating of 13-14. While a variety of heat pumps and air conditioners can rate as high as 26 for energy efficiency, a higher number doesn’t necessarily mean that a system is better for your home.
As systems become less efficient over time, replacement may be considered to improve efficiency and put money back in your pocket. An older home with an archaic air conditioner will benefit from even a minimum efficiency rating of 13 if an old system has been rated lower than the minimum.
SEER and Heat Pumps
Heat pumps need to run even more efficiently, as they provide both heating and cooling options for your home. As the majority of heat pumps are electric, an inefficient system could end up costing you even more to run it year-round.
Benefits of the Right SEER Rating
SEER ratings might not be the only factor in choosing the right system for your home, but there are some benefits to be gained from an efficient rating. Some of these benefits include:
A cooling system with a higher SEER rating provides greater cooling power than one with a minimum efficiency rating. Mid-range and high-efficiency cooling systems offer additional variable-speed cooling options, which can keep your home cool and humidity free.
Reduced Energy Costs
The more efficiently an air conditioner or heat pump cools your home, the less energy it will use overall. Other opportunities for savings include government tax credits and rebates offered through manufacturing companies. Be sure to take advantage of these programs to get more money back.
Factors to Consider
If you’re considering an upgrade to your current system, take into account the following factors when shopping for a new heat pump or air conditioner:
- Cooling needs
- Thermostat temperature
- Option of replacing a furnace
- How long you’re planning to stay in your home
- Layout of your home
- Space needed for a new cooling system
Talk to a qualified HVAC technician who can lead you through the process of choosing the right unit for your cooling capacity and energy needs.
Your Home’s Comfort, Our Priority!
Xtreme Heating & Cooling LLC has been serving satisfied clients in Omaha and the surrounding area for over a decade. With premium heating and cooling services, repair, installation, and maintenance plans, we have all of your needs covered when it comes to providing the ultimate in comfort and convenience. We serve residential and commercial clients. Additionally, we can help with new constructions and remodels. Contact Xtreme Heating & Cooling LLC today for information on how a new AC or heat pump will improve your home’s energy efficiency!