The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) has a lot to do with the quality of your air and the price of your utility bills. So if you’re wondering what’s a good SEER rating, you should know that the number is very much tied to your budget.
Many homeowners are unaware of their current AC unit’s SEER rating and it’s only ever brought to their attention when it comes time to purchase a new unit. And because most people aren’t sure how to accurately calculate watt-tours and outputs, they reach out to the professionals like us at Precision Air & Plumbing to help guide them.
In this article, we’ll look at how SEER works, what a good rating is, and what the right answer is for you.
SEER is a measure of the output of the air conditioner compared to the energy needed to operate. It’s calculated across the entire season as opposed to the energy needed on any given day. (This is because summer temperatures can go from mild to scalding in the blink of an eye.) It also gives the homeowner a more accurate idea of how the air conditioner will perform for them.
More is better when it comes to a good rating. This is the general rule of thumb for SEER ratings, so if you remember nothing else, you should be looking at units that maximize efficiency. The US Department of Energy regulates minimum SEER ratings based on regions of the country though. So while the lowest SEER rating for a unit is 13 (with the standard scale going up to 21), the minimum number for the Southwestern states is at least 14.
This means that if you walked into a store in Arizona, you likely wouldn’t find an air conditioner with a SEER rating of 13, but you might find one with this rating if you walked into a store in a northern state like Michigan. Many of the older AC units were only rated at 8 or 9 though, so even a more basic model today will instantly decrease your energy consumption and carbon footprint.
When you see the SEER rating, you should know that you’re seeing the maximum number for the appliance though. For example, let’s say you bought a car with a combined 30 miles per gallon. You already know that if you’re constantly in stop-and-go traffic, you can’t necessarily count on this number because of the extra stress you’re putting on the vehicle.
You’ll pay a little more for the most efficient AC units out there, but the results speak for themselves. Not only are you likely to save more money over time, but you’re also helping the environment and getting a more comfortable home. At Precision Air & Plumbing, we know that springing for a unit that goes above and beyond the minimum SEER rating can cause some homeowners to hesitate, but we always encourage our customers to prioritize the long-term benefits.
It’s important to have an idea of what works best for your home though before you choose based solely on the number. Just because a SEER rating is 15, doesn’t mean it’s not the right option. We’ll look at what can drag your efficiency down and how a better unit can make a difference.
Age is one of the biggest factors when it comes to efficiency. Normal wear and tear can affect your numbers and inch your costs up year over year. This is especially true if you’re working with an inferior or single-stage model. The latter will use the same amount of power to cool the room if it’s 75° or 100°, while a multi-stage AC will adjust based on the environment.
If you had an older air conditioner and sky-high utility costs and you had no idea what your SEER rating was, chances are you’re going to end up with a number of around 8 or even less.
Variable blowers can also make a difference, as they can be used to conserve energy. Similar to multi-stage ACs, the unit’s fan motors can control the amount of airflow in your home. You can think of the variable blowers as a way to enhance your energy savings as opposed to rescuing the unit from inefficiency. If the AC itself still needs a lot of energy to cool off the room, the blowers will only be able to help so much.
Finally, size and installation can make a big difference. If the appliance is too small for your square footage, it will have to work harder while still coming up short. If the AC is too big, it will keep the home cool, but it will waste energy in the process. It also won’t be an even process, leaving some rooms freezing and others at tepid temperatures.
Even air conditioners with a good rating for the climate can still benefit from a few energy-saving tips. For instance, keeping your thermostat closer to 80° than 70°. For every degree that you raise your thermostat, you can significantly decrease your cooling expenses.
Programmable thermostats are usually worth the money when it comes to decreasing your overall energy costs. You can optimize your energy use based on when you’re in your home and which parts of the home you’re in. For instance, when you leave your home, you can leave it at a warmer setting. Once you’re ready to come back, you can set the thermostat up to start cooling the home before you even open the door.
When the sun starts to scorch, it’s also a good time to close the blinds and shades. The less of those rays get into your home, the more your appliances can take it easy. Even an AC with a minimum SEER rating will appreciate the break.
At Precision Air & Plumbing, our business was made to keep customers comfortable even when the sun starts to turn up the heat. When you’re thinking about minimizing your energy use, it helps to do so when you can stay cool, calm, and collected rather than when you’d do anything to get a break from the rays.
If you’re ready to look for an AC unit that will work with your home and daily needs, we’re here to help. Contact us today to see how we can steer you towards your perfect match.
We want to help you learn about about all things air conditioning and heating! Have any questions or want to see us write about something? Give us a call, chat, or email and we'll do our best to help you out.
I wanted to make sure my air conditioner was ready for summer. Fernando came out and made sure my unit was tip top. He was friendly, professional and not a sales man. Thanks Fernando!
Colin and Andrea were incredibly professional and knowledgeable. They did a great job representing the company. We will definitely contact them again for any HVAC needs that arise.
We woke up in the middle of the nite on memorial day to a hot house. I called precision at 6am and they were here before noon. Simple problem fixed, cool house. I love these guys!
Thank you Ray at Precision Air...the compressor on our AC went out last night and the house was HOT. This morning Ray was there to replace the compressor and had us feeling the cool air again in no time. Great customer service...quick response time and friendly from the first call until the repair was completed. Ray even offered to clean the filters! Thank you!!
I’m so glad I called Precision for my annual AC checkup!! Austin was professional, super friendly and answered all my questions. I’ve had more bad experiences with AC companies here in the valley than good ones. Precision Air will have all my hvac business going forward!! Thanks for being a reputable and honest company!!!
He did a great job; professional and knowledgeable! Kalin is the technician’s name and Precision Air and Plumbing should take a bow for hiring such an invaluable employee!!!
Precision Air is a company of integrity. I signed up with them August 1st, 2019 for their AC maintenance plan for 2 years... Someone from their office called me a week ago to set up their yearly maintenance visit. SO GRATEFUL.
Precision Air and Plumbing is a wonderful company to work with! They are very experienced and professional. They have helped us in our home for many years via a/c service and air duct cleaning.
It was time to replace our AC, and so our choice was Precision Air, as we've been with them for over 20 years. Teman & Julian did an excellent job on the installation today, arriving on time.