SEER standards and ratings determine an HVAC unit’s energy efficiency and performance. Whether you’re moving to a new home or looking to replace your current HVAC system, a good SEER rating can be the difference between high monthly energy bills and ample savings. SEER standards can change over time as systems become more efficient, which is why most modern units deliver better efficiency. Here at Southport Home Services, we can install the HVAC system of your choice.

What Are SEER Standards?

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is designed to determine how efficient a heat pump or central air conditioner is. Manufacturers are able to calculate these ratings by dividing the unit’s cooling output by the energy it consumes. A higher rating equates to a more efficient system. Modern cooling systems can be placed into three categories based on current SEER standards, which include 13-16 SEER for baseline units, 16-18 SEER for moderately efficient units, and 20+ SEER for highly efficient units.

Modern cooling systems that were made in 2022 or before are required to have a minimum 13 SEER rating. However, different states may have higher minimum requirements. At the beginning of 2023, these standards increased to 14 SEER for northern states and 15 SEER in southern states.

How Does SEER Differ From EER?

Manufacturers always use the SEER rating for heat pumps and central air conditioners. However, the Energy Efficient Ratio (EER) is used to determine the efficiency of smaller room air conditioners, which mainly include window-mounted units. Higher EER ratings indicate a more efficient system.

What Constitutes a Good SEER Rating?

Good SEER ratings depend on the size of your home and the climate you live in. People who live in warmer and more humid climates would most benefit from SEER ratings of 20 or above. The amount you’re willing to spend on an air conditioner can also dictate which rating is best for you. We can help you identify which system would be ideal for your home.

SEER ratings can be as high as 26 depending on the model and brand you select. While all heat pumps and air conditioners are designed to cool a home to a specific temperature, more efficient systems will cool a home quicker, which saves money.

How Do SEER Ratings Affect Costs?

Air conditioners with a 16 SEER rating can cost a couple thousand more than units with a 13 SEER rating. Repairing a system with a high SEER rating costs more than repairing a standard system because of the need for high-quality parts.

Air conditioners with more efficiency usually come with a two-stage system that provides homeowners with high and low settings. You can then place the air conditioner at your preferred temperature and use less energy.

How SEER Ratings Work with Heat Pumps and Ductless Mini-split Systems

While your heat pump will have a SEER rating, it should also be equipped with a Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) rating because of the system’s ability to heat and cool.

Efficiency is considerably more important with a heat pump because of the system’s need to be operational during the cooling and heating seasons. Since heat pumps run on electricity, having a less efficient system means that your monthly electricity bills will be higher.

If you’re purchasing a ductless mini-split system for your home, these units can be outfitted with a 30 SEER rating depending on the model and brand. The majority of ductless systems are at least 20 SEER or higher. Just like central heat pumps, it’s possible for mini-splits to heat and cool a home, which is why these units have HSPF and SEER ratings.

If you’re unsure of which system should be installed in your home, ductless mini-splits are ideal for smaller spaces like garages or attics. If your home doesn’t have enough ductwork for heat pumps and central air conditioners, a ductless mini-split could be your next choice.

Why SEER Standards Are Important for HVAC Systems

There are several reasons why SEER standards are important for HVAC systems, including everything from allowing you to compare HVAC units to allowing you to select a system that eventually pays for itself.

When you’re attempting to select the best HVAC system for your home, you can weigh upfront costs and long-term expenses based on SEER standards. High SEER units cost more upfront but provide homeowners with lower energy bills. In comparison, low SEER units are more affordable to buy but cost more to operate.

The SEER ratings you see on HVAC units are based entirely on standardized tests. All air conditioning units are assigned a SEER rating based on a test that was created by the U.S. Department of Energy. These tests come with an assumption that outdoor temperatures are 82 degrees Fahrenheit, indoor relatively humidity is at 50%, and indoor temperatures are at 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Because of how this rating system works, you can determine that an air conditioning unit with a SEER rating of 16 will be around 60% more efficient than a unit with a 10 rating if your home matches the assumptions in the standardized test.

You’ll also discover that units with higher SEER ratings are able to pay for themselves. Even though systems with higher ratings cost more upfront, the energy savings you obtain on a monthly basis should eventually cover the initial expenses. Even if you’ve purchased an air conditioner with a 13-14 SEER rating, this should pay for itself in around 4-5 years. Central air conditioners have an average duration of around 15 years.

Once you’ve covered the initial costs, you’ll enjoy a return on your initial investment for years after. Keep in mind that new HVAC systems need to be installed properly if you want to benefit from the unit’s SEER rating. Our team at Southport Home Services can install any HVAC brand without issue.

While SEER ratings are important when determining which HVAC system you’ll buy, the SEER rating will decrease over time. As an air conditioner ages, the components inside will become worn down, which reduces total efficiency. You can take steps to improve your air conditioner’s lifespan and maintain its SEER rating by requesting regular maintenance. Having your system maintained can further lower your energy costs.

In the event that your air conditioner is over 10 years old or you’ve noticed issues with high electric bills or moisture problems, get in touch with our HVAC repair team. We’ll be able to diagnose any problem and inform you of your best options. While a simple repair may be all that’s required, it’s possible that the entire unit needs to be replaced, which gives you the opportunity to choose a system with a high rating that meets the latest SEER standards.

If your current HVAC system needs to be repaired or replaced with a unit that delivers a higher SEER rating, our team at Southport Home Services can attend to all of your HVAC needs. Our HVAC offerings include installation, repair, and maintenance services. We can also install filters, air purifiers, and other indoor air quality devices for your Wausau, WI home. At Southport Home Services, we offer a selection of plumbing services, which include everything from sump pump repair and installation to drain and sewer cleaning. Call Southport Home Services today to schedule our services or learn more about them.

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Thomas Suchla
Thomas Suchla


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