Good SEER Ratings 101: How to Save Energy and Money

If you’re in the market for a new air conditioner, you’ve probably seen one acronym pop up time and time again in product listings, reviews, and more: SEER. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. In other words, it’s a unit of measurement that quantifies the energy efficiency of your air conditioner into a single rating. But, what’s a good rating to have? Is bigger always better when it comes to SEER? To answer these questions, and others, we’ve created this SEER Ratings 101 guide.

What is a SEER rating?

A SEER rating is a measure of efficiency, similar to the miles per gallon of your car. Every central air conditioner has a SEER rating, usually ranging from 13 to 17, with a maximum of 25. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the system is. Higher SEER ratings also indicate greater cooling output. SEER ratings are an easy way for homeowners to compare air conditioning systems and evaluate the energy efficiency of each one.


Along with SEER, you may be familiar with a similar looking acronym, EER, which stands for Energy Efficiency Ratio. While the law only requires air conditioners to display their SEER ratings, many display EER as well. EER reflects the maximum efficiency you can expect from your air conditioner during peak cooling times, like the middle of summer. EER is only measured once, at a high temperature. SEER, measures both the highs and lows of a typical cooling season.

Why do SEER ratings matter?

SEER was adopted in order to clearly measure and report on the energy use and efficiency of an air conditioner. Before SEER ratings were the standard, cooling systems were only tested in controlled environments. Because of this, the ratings were not an accurate measurement of the system’s typical efficiency, only its efficiency under the absolute best circumstances. In contrast, SEER is determined through calculations of a system’s average performance, not its absolute best performance.

Air conditioners with high SEER ratings generally provide better cooling than those with lower SEER ratings. This helps keep your home at a consistent cool temperature, eliminating problems like short cycling or indoor humidity (and the resulting mold and mildew). These are often seen in older, less efficient systems.

Where to find your air conditioner’s SEER rating

You should find a bright yellow sticker labeled “energy guide” on the side of your air conditioner’s outdoor unit. This displays the SEER rating. You can also find the SEER rating listed on the unit’s manufacturer label, near the top. Some manufacturers encode the SEER rating in the first few digits of the model number. For example, if the first four digits of your model number are AB21, then the air conditioner has a SEER rating of 21.

You can also contact either the company that services your air conditioner or the manufacturer to find out the SEER rating of your current system.

What is a good SEER rating for your home?

13 or 14 SEER is the federally mandated minimum. In the South and Southwest regions of the country, including Arizona, the minimum is 14. The highest available SEER rating is 25. Generally speaking, anything between the minimum of 14 and the max of 25 is considered good. Especially when compared to older systems, which are commonly rated at around an 8 or 9. So if you’re replacing an old air conditioner, any increase in SEER rating can make a big difference.

The fact is, choosing a system with a higher SEER rating may not always be the best choice for your home. Ductwork, insulation, and other factors are important as well. These include:

  • The age of your home
  • The direction your home faces
  • The age of your windows and doors
  • The size of your home
  • The number of people that live in your home

A good HVAC technician will take all of the above into account when they determine the right size and type of air conditioner for your home.

The perks of energy efficiency

SEER ratings reflect the energy efficiency of a particular air conditioning unit. More and more homeowners are making energy saving a priority, and with so many perks, it’s easy to see why. Lower utility bills, money saving incentives, and a positive environmental impact are a few of the main perks of energy efficiency.

Lower utility bills

The money-saving potential of energy efficiency makes it a huge draw for homeowners. The Department of Energy estimates that replacing your air conditioner can save 20 to 40% on your annual cooling costs. This is especially true if you upgrade to an ac unit with greater energy efficiency.

Valuable incentives and rebates

The installation of a new air conditioner is a significant investment—and energy-efficient systems tend to have more upfront costs. To offset these costs, many utility companies offer rebates that can go towards air conditioning installation. APS and SRP, which both service the Phoenix metro area, each have their own rebate programs. Rebates from ENERGY STAR partners can be also found online by entering your zip code.

Environmental impact

Energy efficient air conditioning systems create fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and fewer fossil fuel burnings. Air conditioners consume more than 2,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. This causes power plants to emit more than 3,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, and more than 30 pounds of sulfur dioxide, per the Department of Energy. An energy-efficient air conditioner reduces your carbon footprint, helping you do your part to help the planet.

For all things air conditioning, turn to Chas Roberts

Pondering an upgrade to a new, energy-efficient air conditioner? Wondering why your second story rooms always feel warmer than your first-floor rooms? Frustrated with an air conditioner that turns on and off constantly? The solution to your problems has a name—Chas Roberts. There’s no question, problem, or situation we can’t handle. Contact us to experience what sets us apart from countless others in the HVAC industry.