Updated January 22, 2024

Finding the right HVAC system to purchase for your home usually means looking at the type of unit as well as its heating and cooling capacity. However, the unit’s SEER rating is also important and can tell you how efficient it will be once technicians install it in your home. Buying an HVAC system with a SEER rating of 16 or higher can help you earn tax rebates as well. When you’re shopping for the best HVAC unit, you should know what the SEER rating is.

SEER Ratings Explanation

SEER refers to Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. This ratio occurs by dividing the cooling output for an average cooling season by the total amount of energy that’s used. It represents the amount of energy the unit consumes to run for a single year.

If a unit uses up a small amount of energy to produce the cooling that your home needs, the SEER rating will be higher. This ratio indicates the system’s maximum efficiency. Today, HVAC systems have a SEER rating of at least 14.3. The majority of units come with a SEER rating of 14.5-22.0.

Ideal SEER Rating

The ideal SEER rating for an HVAC system depends on where you live, the size of your home, your existing ductwork, and the quality of insulation. While your indoor environment will likely be comfortable with a SEER rating above 14, this doesn’t mean that a higher SEER rating won’t be preferable due to the energy savings.

Because of the numerous variables that must be taken into account when replacing an HVAC system, this shouldn’t be a DIY job. A trained technician can assist you in identifying which model is right for your home and how a high SEER rating can help improve your home’s overall energy efficiency.

Benefits of High SEER Ratings

HVAC systems with higher SEER ratings usually require a more substantial financial investment. However, there is a wide range of different systems to select from, which include everything from split systems to duct-free systems. You should be able to find a unit that meets your needs and falls under your budget.

Better Energy Efficiency

Higher SEER ratings mean that the unit can run more efficiently in most conditions. By using up less energy, your monthly utility bill should be lower. However, the amount of savings you earn each month varies depending on numerous variables as well as the difference between your old unit and your current one.

Variable-Speed or Two-Stage Compressor

HVAC systems can be outfitted with either variable-speed or two-stage compressors. Two-stage compressors are often known as dual-stage compressors since they run at high and low speeds. By having two separate stages of output, the compressor is able to use a lower amount of energy when necessary. If the outdoor temperature is at a mild and comfortable 63 degrees Fahrenheit, the compressor will likely remain on the low setting, which means that the unit will use up less energy.

Variable-speed compressors run at multiple levels that extend past the usual low and high settings. With these variables in place, you can effectively customize your home’s energy output. These compressors usually remain on to make sure that a consistent stream of cooler air is being sent into your home to keep your temperature at the right level.

Units that have a lower SEER rating often run at just one speed, which can cause the AC to turn off and on regularly even when the weather is mild. In this scenario, your home could experience uneven cooling compared to units with higher SEER ratings.

Higher Indoor Comfort

During the summer months, outdoor temperatures can get high throughout Iowa. When the air is filled with humidity, the conditions become even more uncomfortable. While less efficient systems can be strained during hot days, systems with a high SEER rating may be energy efficient enough to keep your home cool and your energy bill low despite the raised temperature.

Less Environmental Impact

HVAC systems with higher SEER ratings create less of a carbon footprint, which helps to protect the environment. Along with using less energy, more modern systems use less hazardous refrigerants. Installing a high-SEER system in your home is one way you can protect the environment.

Factoring SEER Ratings into Purchase

HVAC systems that were built around 10-15 years ago usually come with a SEER rating that ranges from 8-10. This rating can be found in a number of areas on an HVAC system. For instance, it often appears as a black and yellow EnergyGuide sticker that’s placed on the outside unit. It could also be shown on a small piece of paper that’s in the indoor air handler.

All HVAC systems come with a model number. This number commonly indicates what your unit’s SEER rating is. When the model number is something like YZ20i, this means that the unit has a SEER rating of 20. If you’re unsure what your current system’s SEER rating is, find the serial number and model. Once you have this information, call the manufacturer to obtain the rating. You can also search online for SEER ratings based on model numbers.

What to Expect

When you choose to replace your HVAC unit that’s at least 10 years old, you may be able to save around 20-40% of your annual energy costs, which build up with each year you own the system. The latest energy standards put forward by the U.S. Department of Energy state that the minimum SEER rating must be 14.3, which is based on the new SEER2 rating system that went into effect at the beginning of 2023.

The different models available to you work at various efficiency levels, which is why they can be found at many different price points. If your home has ample insulation and reliable ductwork, a system with a 13-14 SEER rating may be highly efficient because of the other components that are in place.

If you want the highest level of savings possible, however, consider a system with a SEER rating of 21-22. You can also combine a relatively high SEER rating with energy-saving techniques during the warm summer season.

Heat Pump SEER Ratings

Heat pumps use SEER ratings as well to indicate how energy-efficient the system is. When a heat pump is affixed with an Energy Star, the same range of 14-22 is maintained. Any model with a rating of 17 or higher is considered to be highly efficient.

When you buy a new HVAC system for your home, you need experienced technicians on hand who can install the unit without damaging any components. At Golden Rule, our team offers efficient replacement and installation services for Grimes, IA homeowners. We’ll give you a free estimate beforehand to ensure you know how much work needs to be done.

You can request our installation services for heat pumps, furnaces, air conditioners, and all other HVAC systems. Repair and maintenance services are available as well. Some of the additional offerings we provide at Golden Rule include plumbing, electrical, and air quality services. Call our specialists today if you have questions about SEER ratings or want to schedule service.

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