What Does SEER Mean?

You may not have heard the term SEER before, but it plays a big factor in how energy efficient your air conditioning system is. First, let’s talk for a second about what SEER means. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The SEER rating of an HVAC unit is determined by dividing the total amount of cooling it produces in a season by the total amount of electricity needed for that cooling. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient your air conditioner is.

Is a 14 SEER Unit Energy Efficient?

Today, the federal government mandates that all new air conditioners be at least 13 SEER and heat pumps must be 14 SEER, making these the current baselines for energy efficiency. However, that does not mean that 13 SEER units are not energy efficient. In fact, today’s basic 13 SEER unit is about 20-30% more energy efficient than the average air conditioner sold 15 years ago.

In other words, if you are replacing an older, less-efficient HVAC system, you could see a significant decrease in your energy bills with a 13 SEER system. But it is possible to see an even bigger reduction if you go with an even more efficient unit.

Potential Energy Savings with a 16 SEER Unit

So how much difference is there between the efficiency of a 14 SEER unit compared to a 16 SEER unit? According to the Kobie SEER Energy Savings Calculator, a 16 SEER unit uses about 13% less energy to produce the same amount of cooling as a 14 SEER unit of the same size. That means that for every $100 you would pay to run your 14 SEER unit, you could save $13 by upgrading to a 16 SEER system.

How much savings you’ll receive depends on a few key factors including:

  1. What size unit does your home need? A 3-ton HVAC unit uses less energy than a 5-ton unit, so the amount of money you could potentially save on your monthly bills will be greater with a larger unit. However, the cost of upgrading to a 16 SEER system may be more with a larger unit as well.
  2. How much cooling do you use each year? Households in hotter, more humid climates and those that keep their thermostats set lower will use more cooling. The more cooling you use, the more money you could save every month by upgrading to a 16 SEER unit. Here in the Midwest, this is certainly a factor worth considering.

Other Key Differences Between 14 SEER and 16 SEER Units

In addition to the potential energy savings, there are other common differences in features between 14 SEER and 16 SEER units. However, these features do vary depending on the specific model, so be sure to check out the details of the units you are considering.

  • 14 SEER units generally have a single-stage compressor, while the 16 SEER units often have a two-stage compressor.
  • A two-stage compressor allows the higher SEER unit to adapt to the conditions in your home, while a single-stage compressor must either run at full speed or shut off completely.
  • Not only does the two-stage compressor make your air conditioner more energy efficient, it also allows for longer run times. That keeps the temperature in your home more consistent, improving your comfort.
  • Longer run times also have the major benefit of better reducing humidity in your home. Reduced humidity in the summer months will protect your home from mold and moisture damage and help make you more comfortable.
  • Some 16 SEER units also have two-speed condensing fans and blower motors which work to increase the overall benefits of the two-stage compressor.
  • 16 SEER units with two-stage compressors and two-speed condensing fans are often quieter than units with single-stage compressors and single-speed fans because the compressors and fans do not make as much noise when they are running at a lower speed.

Which Unit Is Right for You?

Ultimately, there are several factors to consider when choosing a new air conditioning unit for your home. Purchase price is certainly one thing to consider, but make sure you weigh other factors as well, including your long-term energy bills and overall comfort. Talk to your comfort consultant about your needs and concerns so they can help you make the best choice for you, your family, and your home. For more information about

SEER ratings or to request service for your air conditioning system, contact B&W Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Drains today.