What are the benefits of a higher efficiency system? SEER 101

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If you’re looking at replacing your air conditioner, high efficiency systems are worth serious consideration. Efficiency is measured by SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. When comparing air conditioners, the SEER rating will tell you how efficient one is compared to another. Higher SEER numbers indicate higher efficiency. The minimum SEER rating is 13, with a rating above 16 considered high efficiency. You should consider a high efficiency system for the following reasons:

  1. Lower Utility Bills – High efficiency systems with higher SEER ratings use less energy, which translates to less money you spend on energy bills. In fact, switching from an old 8 SEER unit to a 16 SEER one can save you 50% on your energy bill. Bottom line: higher efficiency = lower bills.
  2. Incentives and Rebates – There are many potential ways to save through government incentives or manufacturers’ rebates. By taking advantage of these offers, a high efficiency system might end up costing roughly the same as a standard unit. A good place to find what’s available to you is www.dsireusa.org.
  3. Environmental Impact – Because high efficiency systems use less energy they contribute to fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Less electricity means fewer fossil fuels being burned. This is good for your wallet and good for the environment.
  4. Humidity – High efficiency systems not only help keep the air at the preferred temperature, but can more effectively remove moisture from the air. Modulated systems run longer cycles at lower pressures, helping to cool the air comfortably. Air that cools too fast without proper moisture removal can lead to mold and other airborne problems.

In addition to the above, a home with a high efficiency air conditioning system can be attractive to a potential buyer if you’re looking to sell. You’ll be passing on the monthly savings to them!

Our Recommendation

While we are advocates of higher efficiency systems that use less energy, save you money, and provide better humidity control, we don’t want you to just buy the biggest, highest SEER-rated unit possible. It’s important to work with a reputable contractor who can properly size a system that’s the best fit for your home. You can find quality contractors on sites such as www.angieslist.com or www.acca.org.

We’d love to hear from you if you’re contemplating a switch to a high efficiency system. What are the most appealing qualities in a new system that you’re looking for?

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What Is SEER And Why Is It Important?

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20 thoughts on “What are the benefits of a higher efficiency system? SEER 101

  1. I have a condominium in south Florida. The a/c unit is on the roof. It’s 8 years old. When should I replace it? I don’t think it is big enough for our sq footage. We have a lanai that has no ducts for a/c. I have to close it off during the hot months or the whole house will not cool properly. Will a larger unit help?
    Also the highest seer rating will make a difference?

    • We recommend contacting a local licensed HVAC contractor in your local area to have them properly determine your heat load and then they can provide unit recommendations. They can also perform a calculation based on your location and unit run time to estimate the yearly operating costs of the various SEER units. Don’t forget to check the WWW.DESIRE.ORG for rebates and incentives that may be available to help reduce the total cost.

    • In 2015, the Department of Energy’s regional efficiency standards for air conditioning and heat pumps went into effect. The minimum efficiency for AC is 13 SEER in the north and 14 SEER in the south. In the southwest there is an additional EER minimum of 12.2. The next efficiency increase will take effect January 1, 2023.

      • Right, I think that homeowners in the South would appreciate those details from the article. Also, is it correct that the minimum SEER requirement for split-system heat pumps will move from 13 to 14 across ALL regions?

        • Thank you for your input. We will look into updating this article to include regional information. The current minimum SEER for heat pumps is 14 and HSPF is 8.2 at all locations in the US.

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