Why is the SEER Rating Important to My HVAC System?

July 13, 2022
Heat Pump Service Kansas City, Missouri

If you’re considering replacing your existing HVAC system any time soon, you’ll no doubt see SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) ratings come up at some point in your search for the right system. You may already know that the SEER rating is associated with the energy efficiency of an air conditioner or heat pump. What you may not know exactly how this affects your energy costs and the performance of an HVAC system. In this article, we’ll take a look at what SEER ratings are, what they mean, and how they can affect your decision when choosing a new HVAC system.

What is a SEER Rating?

So, what in the world is a SEER rating, anyways? In simple words, the higher the SEER rating, the more efficient your HVAC system will be. To calculate the SEER rating of a system, manufacturers divide the output of your system during a typical cooling season by the energy that was used. This might seem complicated, but remember, you don’t have to do any math yourself! Just remember the higher that number is, the more efficient the system will be in cooling your home.

There are three categories of SEER rating:
  • Baseline, otherwise known as entry-level efficiency: 13-16 SEER
  • Mid efficiency: 16-18 SEER
  • High efficiency: 20+ SEER

What are the National and State SEER Standards?

The Department of Energy (DOE) has set a requirement that most modern AC systems must have a SEER rating of at least 13. SEER ratings differ from state to state and in Kansas, our minimum SEER for new systems is 13. However, in many southern states, the DOE requires any air conditioner installed in 2015 or later to have a minimum SEER of 14. In 2023, the DOE will be raising the SEER rating again with 14 being the minimum for northern states and 15 for southern states. This updating of standards happens every year, starting with the first national standards for SEER ratings being established in 1992. In fact, the EPA also includes a minimum SEER requirement alongside other requirements for air conditioners, heat pumps, and many other appliances to earn the ENERGY STAR label you’ve likely seen on things like refrigerators, washing machines, and even televisions!

What is The Right SEER Rating for Me?

An ideal SEER rating will depend on a number of factors, including the size of your home and your personal cooling needs. The system you choose will also depend on what you are looking to get from your system and what is important for you. For example, environmental impact may be important to you, or you might want a system that simply brings you the best energy bill savings. Our comfort advisor will be able to give you the best advice on which system and SEER rating is best.

Heat pumps and air conditioners can have SEER ratings higher than 20. However, a high SEER rating doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right fit for your home. It’s important to note that all air conditioners and heat pump systems cool your home to the same temperatures regardless of their SEER rating. However, systems with a higher SEER do the job more efficiently and save you money.

If your existing air conditioner has a SEER rating below 13 and it’s over 10 years old, it could be time to opt for an upgrade. You’re likely to see some good monthly energy savings when you upgrade from an old system to a new and efficient modern system.

What Are the Benefits of a Higher SEER Rating?

A higher SEER rating should not be the only thing that influences your decision when choosing a new system but higher ratings do come with a number of benefits.

Lower Energy Costs

Higher SEER ratings do mean that less energy is used to cool your home, but there’s a bit more at play here. One of the main factors has to do with the type of HVAC system you have. When it comes to efficiency and energy costs, the difference between single-stage, two-stage, and variable cooling systems may be a little counterintuitive. Two-stage and variable-speed systems run for longer than single-stage systems as they work to regulate a constant temperature. However, these systems offer additional settings that justify their higher SEER ratings.

Single-stage systems are rated according to the hottest day of the year. During the rest of the summer season, single-stage systems may fire up and turn off much more frequently and over cool your home. This can result in more energy being consumed and higher energy costs. This is why single-stage systems often have lower SEER ratings than two-stage and variable-speed systems. Variable-speed systems offer a range of settings and are able to adjust their energy usage. These systems may run for longer but at their lower settings they also generate fewer energy spikes and keep energy bills lower.

Humidity Control and Air Distribution

If your home has high humidity levels, it’s worth considering a two-stage or variable-speed system. As these systems have longer running times, they will pull more humidity out of the air. Systems that run for longer are also able to distribute air better. If your home is more than a single story, better air distribution between the levels will improve your comfort.

Financial Incentives

We’ve already discussed the energy savings you can make by switching to a system with a higher SEER rating, but did you know you could save even more? There are often manufacturer and/or local utility incentives and rebates available to homeowners who choose a high-efficiency system. We can tell you about any tax credits or rebates you might be entitled to when you choose a particular system.

How to Take Advantage of SEER Benefits and Incentives

At Summit Heating & Cooling, we offer a wealth of experience when it comes to HVAC upgrades and we would be delighted to recommend the perfect system to suit your needs. We’ll work closely with you to understand your requirements when it comes to cooling, your budget, and which SEER rating would be the best choice for you.

Speak to our team here at Summit Heating & Cooling today to find out more about our services and systems and how we can help you to make great savings on your energy bills without compromising on comfort.

company icon