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SEER Rating: This Could Be Your Lucky Number

Before you buy, here’s a little crib sheet to help you get the most for your money– another way of saying, What’s my SEER?


SEER = Seasonal Energy Efficiency RateSEER ratings are a way to calculate the efficiency of an air conditioner. (The acronym stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.)
It’s the output during a typical season divided by the total electric energy output during that same period.
The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the AC.
For a unit with a SEER rating of 10, it would cost 10 cents per hour to operate. That’s assuming that electricity costs you 20 cents per kWh (kilowatt hour), and that it’s a 5,000-BTU air-conditioning unit.


seer rating exampleBe forewarned: the higher the SEER rating, the higher the price. That’s because you will save over the life of the unit, with lower operating costs.Say you’re trying to decide between SEER 13 and SEER 16.

Both are 3-ton (36,000-BTU) AC units. If the climate were the same, with each unit running the same number of hours, the SEER 13 would cost you about $500/year to operate, while the SEER 16 would cost $95 less each year.

How many years of SEER savings would you need to make up the difference in the purchase price? Probably not that many, since the difference in price might be only a few hundred dollars.


If you can afford it, go for the highest SEER rating possible. (Consult your HVAC contractor before making the final decision.)
Ductless air-conditioning systems are available with SEER ratings as high as 28. (The absence of air-leaking ducts makes them more efficient.)
Conventional ducted AC systems can range up to 21 SEER.

You can start your comparison shopping, right here 

Have fun shopping, and look forward to a cool summer!

  • Fred Atkins

    I know nothing about HVAC, but need to replace my heat pump at a vacation home on the coast of NC. I think I understand SEER as a rating of efficiency and have read that it compares to mpg in a car. However, it seems to me that that is only part of the story. For example, I’d love to have a car that gets 100 mpg, but if it won’t go over 10 miles per hour, it’s useless to me. Likewise, I don’t want a high SEER heat pump if it won’t cool my house to the desired temperature quickly. So, how do I determine the correct unit that will properly cool my home? Frankly, I don’t care about efficiency in terms of amount of electricity used, since this is a vacation home that gets used less than 90 days per year.

    Thanks for any info and advice you can give me. fatkinsjr@nc.rr.com

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