What is a Good SEER Rating?

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating and provides a good indication of how energy efficient your air conditioner or heat pump is. In simple terms, the greater the SEER rating the less energy the cooling appliance takes to operate.

By calculating your SEER rating, you can be more aware of the efficiency of your current appliance and determine whether it’s worth upgrading. Equally, if you are looking to purchase a new cooling appliance for the first time, it’s certainly worth being aware of how to read a SEER rating as you can potentially save a lot of money on your energy bills. Let’s dig into what is a good SEER rating.

SEER Rating Calculator  

In order to use the seer calculator, you need to know the tonnage rating of your current air conditioner/heat pump appliance and the new model you are currently interested in. This will allow the calculator to provide you with an estimated comparison between the two and provide you with a SEER rating for each.

For example, if you have an air conditioner with a 2 ton, 8 SEER rating and a new 2 ton 18 SEER appliance, you could potentially make savings of up to $9340 over a 20 year period. It’s worth bearing in mind that these figures are based on averages e.g. the national average electricity cost is roughly $0.14 per kilowatt hour and the average run time per season is roughly 2100 hours.

SEER Rating Chart 

Like the majority of SEER rating charts, the one below is only intended to provide an estimation of the percentage of savings you can expect to make based on the SEER rating of the unit you install.

SEER Rating Chart 

As you can see in the above chart, installing a cooling appliance with a SEER rating of 16 will result in savings of around 50%, while an appliance with a SEER rating of 22 can potentially result in savings of up to 65%.

However, it’s certainly worth mentioning that there is a wide range of factors that come into play, such as your local climate, state of your homes insulation, sunlight exposure and usage over time.

What SEER Rating Should You Buy? 

In general, the higher the SEER rating, the more savings you will make since the higher rated unit will in effect provide the same amount of cooling but use less energy to do so. This can in real terms translate to financial savings, which is one of the major reasons to take SEER ratings into consideration.

Energy efficiency ratings weren’t introduced in the USA until 1992 and the legislation originally demanded all new appliances have a minimum SEER rating of at least 10. Over the years, this minimum threshold has gradually increased and in 2015 was changed to 14 in most parts of the country.

In general, you will pay more for a cooling appliance with a higher SEER rating and often this is a worthwhile investment. However, in some certain cases, this may not be true, for example, if your home is poorly insulated and you have leaky ducts. These issues will likely lead to substantial energy loss that will not be offset by simply installing a unit with a greater SEER rating.

What is a Good SEER Rating? 

So, in answer to the question of what SEER rating should you buy? The higher the better, but in most cases, an appliance with a SEER rating of at least 16 is often recommended.

Why 16? An ac or heat pump with a SEER rating of at least 16 is typically going to see a faster return on investment via the energy savings you will make. While a unit with a greater SEER rating will likely be more expensive and take you more time to recoup the extra expense in the form of energy savings.

Is a higher SEER rating worth the money? 

A SEER rating above 16 can result in substantial energy savings, so as long as the homes insulation and any vent leaks are taken care of. For example, there is an estimated energy saving factor of around 10% for air conditioning units with a SEER rating between 17 and 22. Yet the cost of these can often be quite substantial, which means that it does become a question of personal preference.

Often, these expensive units often offered by prestigious brands come with a range of other helpful features, including wi-fi, speed settings, and timers. Therefore, it depends on what your value and so shouldn’t simply be judged on the basis of energy savings.

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