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What is the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER)?
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Blog 09/13/19

What is the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER)?

When shopping for a new HVAC system, you may come across a SEER rating or value.  Some standard systems have single value SEER ratings, while others have SEER values in the twenties. If you have questions as to what a SEER rating is and how that affects your purchase, keep reading this comprehensive guide to better understand how it affects your overall energy savings and operating costs.

What does SEER stand for?

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The SEER value is the ratio of cooling output of an AC over a typical cooling season.  Think of the SEER value as the air conditioning equivalent of MPG. Like an MPG, various factors can affect it. How often you run your AC unit, how hot it is outside and the humidity can affect the SEER rating. Like an MPG, a SEER value is an ideal maximum. The lowest permissible SEER rating for homeowners in California is 14. High SEER rated systems can go as high as 21 – 25.

Is an HVAC unit with a high SEER value better?

While a standard HVAC unit with a higher SEER rating will be more energy efficient than those with a lower SEER value, it does not necessarily mean that it will save you money due to lower energy costs in the long run. In general, higher SEER rated HVAC units tend to cost more upfront.  However, the costs you save in decreased energy bills do not necessarily offset the increased costs of the unit. Since there is no way to predict energy usage or overall SEER energy savings, there is no way to determine if a higher efficiency HVAC system would actually save you money in the long run. Also, the components on a higher efficiency unit are typically more expensive than the same components used for lower SEER value air conditioner units. 

Unfortunately, you cannot swap higher SEER equipment in a lower SEER unit to make it more efficient. To make cooling systems more energy efficient, you must upgrade the entire system. If you were to replace a part in a lower SEER unit with a higher SEER component, it would cause unnecessary strain on the system and potentially create costly problems.

What unit is best?

Meeting with a Bill Howe Comfort Adviser can help determine what air conditioning unit is best for you, your home and your budget. In California, the minimum SEER rating that is permissible is 14. If you run your air conditioner a lot more than an average, a higher SEER value unit may be beneficial for you and could provide affordable cooling costs. If not, a lower SEER unit will save you money upon installation and maintenance.  A Bill Howe Comfort Adviser can help you decide what type of HVAC system will create the best indoor temperature for you.

To schedule an appointment to discover what your options are for creating the best indoor environment, call the HVAC experts at 1-800-BILL-HOWE (1-800-245-5469) today. 


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