What is SEER?

Understand how a SEER rating is determined and explore how that rating can affect your energy cost and comfort.

Your home and energy needs are unique, which means your SEER rating may change depending on what’s most important to you in a heating and cooling system.

What is SEER rating for HVAC?

In the heating and cooling industry, SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. A SEER rating is the ratio developed when the cooling output of the system over an average cooling season is divided by the total energy used. More simply, SEER is representative of how much energy and money the unit requires to operate effectively over a single year.

A SEER ratio is determined over the course of a full cooling season. The concept is quite simple. The less energy used by the unit to produce the proper amount of cooling, the higher the SEER rating. The SEER ratio is representative of a unit’s maximum efficiency.

Consider the number of miles per gallon (mpg) your vehicle gets when it’s running at its best. Perhaps you get 25 mpg on the highway. City driving, however, produces less efficient fuel usage. The same is true of your air conditioner. A SEER ratio of 21, for example, is the unit’s maximum efficiency and could be lower based on varying conditions.

Why SEER rating matters

Air conditioning units built 10 to 15 years ago typically have a SEER rating between eight and 10. The SEER rating of your current unit can typically be found in one of the following ways:

  • The yellow and black EnergyGuide sticker pasted on the outdoor unit.
  • A piece of paper attached to the air handler, or indoor unit, of your HVAC system.
  • The model number of the product typically references the SEER rating. A model number like “XV20i” represents up to 20 SEER.
  • Locate the model and serial number of the unit and contact the manufacturer to get the SEER rating.

Replacing a unit that’s a decade or more old could save as much as 20 to 40 percent on your energy costs each year. New energy standards established by the U.S. Department of Energy now require air conditioners to achieve a minimum SEER rating of 13, and most units fall within a 13 to 21 SEER rating. American Standard Heating and Cooling air conditioners range from 14.5 up to 22 SEER.

The many different models operate at different efficiency levels and cover a variety of price points. When you consider a new HVAC system for your home, don’t shy away from units with a 13 or 14 SEER. There are many factors, including your current ductwork and home insulation, that will also affect the unit’s performance. Even with a high SEER rating, it’s still helpful to use other energy saving tips for the summer season.

Heat pumps and packaged systems also use the SEER rating scale to showcase the maximum level of energy efficiency the unit can achieve. An Energy Star qualified heat pump with a 14 SEER rating is a good starting point to discover which unit can help create a desirable environment for your home. With a variety of packaged systems available, explore the different benefits of each beyond the SEER rating to discover which unit may work best for your home.

Benefits of a high SEER rating or ratio

The higher the SEER rating, the larger the financial investment. However, with so many American Standard Heating and Air Conditioning® air conditioners from which to choose, you can find a unit that works for your home and budget. A higher SEER rating offers higher energy efficiency and greater indoor comfort for your family.

  • Higher Energy Efficiency

    A higher SEER rating indicates the unit can operate more efficiently in certain conditions. Less energy used can mean greater savings on your monthly utility bill. The amount you save each month will depend, among other variables, on the difference between SEER ratings of your old unit and the new air conditioner.
  • Greater Indoor Comfort

    For some homeowners, especially those in the Southeast or Southwest, summer months mean more than just heat. Humidity can create discomfort within a home that isn’t being cooled by an energy-efficient American Standard AC.
    Choosing a unit with a higher SEER rating means the indoors are a reprieve from sweltering heat and humidity outside your door. Greater indoor comfort is created by a two-stage or variable-speed compressor and a variable-speed blower.
  • Two-Stage vs. Variable-Speed Compressor

    A two-stage compressor, sometimes referred to as a dual-stage compressor, has two levels of operation: high and low. Two stages of output allow the compressor to use less energy when needed. For example, on mild-weather days, the compressor may operate primarily on the low setting, requiring less energy and possibly lowering your monthly energy bill.
    A variable-speed compressor can operate on multiple levels, not just high and low. These variables can support the unit in customizing the energy output needed to keep your home comfortable. Variable-speed compressors rarely shut off as they blow a constant stream of cool air into your home to maintain a consistent temperature.
    Lower SEER units typically operate on one speed, which leads to the AC constantly turning on and off during mild weather, which can create uneven cooling throughout your home. If you find that one room or space of your home is often much cooler or warmer than the rest of the house, an American Standard technician can evaluate whether an HVAC repair or replacement can improve the situation.
  • Reduced Environmental Impact

    Create a smaller carbon footprint with an air conditioning system with a higher SEER rating. In addition to using less energy, some new AC models use safer refrigerants. Having a new unit installed at your home means you’re contributing to a greener space for future generations.

Best SEER for your home

The best SEER rating for your home HVAC system will be different than that for a homeowner in a different region of the country. A SEER rating over 13 can create a comfortable indoor environment for your family, but you’ll also want to consider the size of your home, quality of insulation, and current ductwork.

Each of these variables means replacing an AC unit is not a DIY job. A trained professional can help you determine the best model for your home and explain the tax credits and manufacturer’s rebates that can help a high-SEER system fit into your budget.

An American Standard specialist can support you throughout the HVAC buying process. From SEER ratings to installation, a highly trained professional is just around the corner and ready to help.