What Does An Air Conditioner’s SEER Rating Mean?


When purchasing an air conditioner, the SEER rating is one of the most important factors to consider. This is because it determines the efficiency of your HVAC system in terms of energy consumption and indoor comfort. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), a residential HVAC system should have a SEER rating of 14 or higher. However, different states have different SEER rating requirements. Keep reading to learn more information on this topic.

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What Does An Air Conditioner’s SEER Rating Mean?

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating measures the HVAC unit’s cooling output versus the yearly energy consumed. The SEER usually ranges from 13 to 21, with the system’s efficiency increasing with the SEER rating.

Importance Of Air Conditioner SEER

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Before installing an air conditioning system, you should determine the SEER rating as the correct system will provide you with benefits like:

  • Lower cooling costs – A highly efficient HVAC unit uses less energy to cool your home per the set temperature. You can have reduced energy bills when you choose the right SEER rating. 
  • Improved comfort – HVAC professionals say that a well-performing AC can cool a four-bedroom home by 10 degrees Fahrenheit in three hours. This also relies on the air conditioner’s size, age, and other factors, but the right SEER rating can provide you with your home’s required comfort level.
  • Eco-friendlier cooling – The lower the energy used, the fewer greenhouse gasses the air conditioner emits. So, an HVAC unit with a high SEER rating is better for the environment.
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What Is A Good SEER Rating For A Cooling System?

Generally, a 14 and above SEER is good. However, several factors to be considered to find the best SEER for your home needs are cooling needs, home size, and preferred energy usage rate. Still, a high SEER rating means the unit has high efficiency. 

The efficiency of an HVAC system primarily depends on your home’s size. Make sure you talk to a reliable HVAC professional to assist you in finding the correct SEER rating. Remember that a 14-SEER cooling system may be sufficient in cooling a two-bedroom home efficiently, but a five-bedroom house requires a higher SEER rating.

How SEER Rating Is Calculated

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Calculating the SEER rating of your air conditioner involves dividing the total cooling output of the year by the total electric energy input. To find the cooling output, multiply the British Thermal Unit per hour (BTU/h) by the cooling hours in a day. Multiply the answer by how many days the system worked in a year. This is exemplified below:

8,000 BTU per hour x 9 cooling hours per day x 220 days per year = 15,840,000 BTUs yearly.

If your total energy consumption for the year is 900,000Wh, your SEER rating will be 15,840,000/900,000 = 17.6 SEER.

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How To Find A SEER On An Air Conditioner

The US Department of Energy mandates that all HVAC manufacturers indicate the SEER rating on their cooling systems. They are also required to put an Energy Star label for qualified units. Look for the yellow and black stickers to check your air conditioner’s SEER efficiency rating. These stickers are usually on the side of the condenser unit and should have a clearly indicated SEER rating.

Another way to determine the SEER rating is to check the air handler. If these two methods aren’t available, find your HVAC system’s manufacturer and serial and model numbers. Use this information to search for it online or contact the manufacturer.

If this is too much of a hassle, consult an HVAC technician for professional assistance. Otherwise, it should be reasonably easy to find the SEER rating unless the manufacturer didn’t properly label the unit.

What Are Mismatched Cooling Systems?

couple feeling hot and sticky due to broken air conditioner

The condenser unit and air handler should be compatible to ensure optimum air conditioner performance. This is achieved through manufacturers making air handlers that only match certain condensers. HVAC technicians should make sure that the air handlers and condensers they install match. Unfortunately, this does not always happen, especially if you hire an inexperienced AC installer.

It is also a mismatch if the air conditioner size does not match your home. This means the air conditioner is too small or too large. An air conditioner that’s too large will end up short cycling. When this happens, your air conditioner can cool your home, but the cycle does not run long enough to filter the air or eliminate humidity. This will then result in poor indoor air quality and discomfort. Short cycling also consumes more energy because the system constantly turns on and off.

On the other hand, a system that is too small will run long cycles, causing the system to overwork. This will hasten the wear and tear, and your HVAC unit will require frequent repairs. It may even cause early system replacement. Homeowners will also have to pay spiked-up energy costs.

A mismatched air conditioner will have reduced efficiency regardless of its SEER rating. Be sure that your HVAC contractor understands this. Talk to a qualified professional to avoid this issue.

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Other Considerations When Choosing An Air Conditioner

Besides the SEER rating, here are several other factors when selecting the right cooling system for your home:

  • Air Conditioner Size – Cooling systems that are either too small or too large will consume more energy. 
  • AC Unit Price – Stick to your allotted budget. 
  • Cooling System Noise – Less efficient ACs tend to work harder, producing more noise in the process. 
  • HVAC Warranty – This guarantees a repair or replacement should your air conditioner not work as expected.


A good SEER efficiency rating offers higher energy efficiency and reduced energy cost. Aside from a good SEER, you can cut your energy bills further with an ENERGY STAR Certified air conditioner. It also helps you have an eco-friendlier home. For all heating and cooling needs and questions, have a professional HVAC contractor assist you in selecting and maintaining the best HVAC system for your home.

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To guarantee high-quality heating and cooling services throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and the Rhode Island region, call Columbus Energies. We have the best professionally certified technicians who are knowledgeable and experienced in conducting accurate HVAC services at all times. We provide exceptional heating and cooling maintenance, replacements, repairs, and installations. 

Columbus Energies offers the most affordable HVAC service costs in the area. Our tune-up services can increase comfort and energy efficiency while lowering your energy expenses. If you require an HVAC repair or replacement system, our techs can recommend the most suitable solutions that fit within your budget. All our work comes with a guarantee. Contact Columbus Energies to schedule a service appointment and get a free, in-home estimate.

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