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SEER Air Conditioning Ratings, Explained

    The boiling hot summer season is all about staying cool and ensuring you don’t melt like ice cream or fry like an egg. But while most of us are tempted to use our AC units to prevent ourselves from sweating like a river, we also have to be mindful of how much we use these units, especially when they push up our electric bills to the moon. However, doing so may be even harder than we realize because HVAC or air-conditioning units are considered a necessity that we just can’t ignore no matter how much we want to save up. So what do we do? Enter the SEER rating.


    But what does seer mean in air conditioner parlance? That’s exactly what we’re about to unravel here in this article. 

    What Is a SEER Rating?


    Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating is the efficiency at which air-conditioners produce cooling. It is the ratio of the amount of cooling or British thermal unit per hour produced (BTU) divided by the amount of electricity (Watts) used. The average is calculated over an entire cooling season using a combination of indoor and outdoor temperatures that range from 60 degrees to 100 plus. This is how it’s able to simulate a typical season. 


    In other words, SEER ratings are what determine air conditioner efficiency. It’s like the miles per gallon for a vehicle. For instance, you get 28 miles per gallon for your car on the highway, but not if you’re stuck in city traffic, which would make it less efficient then. The same principle applies to your air conditioning unit. If the SEER ratio is 21, it offers maximum efficiency, or lower depending on the conditions involved. 


    Older air conditioning units have a 10 or under SEER rating. However, modern air conditioning units of today have ratings that can go high as 23. It’s come to the point in which the United States now recommends that residential air conditioning units made after 2005 should come with a minimum SEER rating of 13 (window models are exempt, so their ratings can be around 10). These readings are typically shown in a yellow and black energy guide sticker that is shown on the cover of the air conditioning unit.


    Here are some of the benefits of a higher SEER rating or ratio:

    Benefits Of A High SEER Rating or Ratio

    Higher Energy Efficiency


    As we said earlier, a higher SEER rating, for instance at 21 offers greater energy efficiency and some conditions compared to an air conditioning unit with a 10 SEER rating. 

    Lower Utility Bills


    The higher the SEER rating for an air conditioner means the people will be able to save more on their monthly electric bills. As a matter of fact, switching from an old unit with an 8 SEER rating to a 16 SEER rating can help us save 50% on our energy bill. In other words, Higher efficiency equals smaller bills.

    Environmental Impact


    Due to the fact that high-efficiency units use up less energy, they result in reduced emissions of greenhouse gases. This means that when less electricity is being used, fewer fossil fuels are burnt up. It won’t just save your money but also the environment.

    Incentives and Rebates


    The air conditioning units nowadays offer plenty of ways to help homeowners save through government incentives or manufacturers’ rebates. If you take advantage of these offers, you can buy a high-efficiency air-conditioning unit at the same price as a standard one. It will also save you a whole lot more if you hire the right air conditioning professionals to install your unit. Click here if you live in the Phoenix, Arizona area.



    Not only do high-efficiency air conditioners keep the air in our rooms at desired temperatures, but they also effectively remove moisture as well. Modulated units run for longer at lower pressures, ensuring the air stays cool. Without proper moisture removal facilities, any unit that cools air quickly will result in the production of mold and other airborne health problems, which is not good for those with asthma, allergies or other respiratory issues.


    But while all these benefits are interesting, does this necessarily mean that the unit with the highest possible SEER rating offers the most efficiency for your house? Let’s bust a couple of myths right here:

    Buying SEER Rating Air Conditioner Is Right For Me?


    The sad truth is that there is no “right” efficiency for every household. That’s because there are different factors that determine the proper efficiency of each household.  The SEER rating on an air conditioning unit represents its efficiency under the right conditions. However, an air conditioner’s efficiency also depends on the proper sizing of the unit for your house, along with the proper installation and evaluation of other efficiency aspects like ductwork and window airflow leaks.

    Why Isn’t The Highest SEER Rating Best For All?


    That’s because these types of air conditioners are the most expensive out of everyone and the payback in cool climates can usually be about 12+ years.

    Why Can’t I Buy The Cheapest Model Then?


    These types of units result in the highest use of energy and costs, which is a terrible choice if you live in areas that have long, humid, and hot seasons.

    So What Is A Good SEER Rating For My Home?


    Normally, a 13 SEER rating is appropriate for a house that had an 8 to 10 SEER rating, but that isn’t pretty much the case all the time. Other factors that you need to consider before buying your potential new unit would be to consider its size, how long you plan on living in your house, the regional climate and how often are you going to use your new AC. To get a better understanding of which SEER rating is best for your potential new air conditioning unit, Energy Star has developed an energy savings calculator that is of great help.



    In the end, it is the unit with the right SEER rating that you and your family should go for instead of one that offers the highest SEER air conditioner energy efficiency ratings. You’ll determine that rating once you factor in several conditions surrounding the purchase of that potential unit such as the climate of the area you live in, the size of your house, how long you plan to live in it, and so on.