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Understanding SEER Ratings: What You Need to Know Before Upgrading Your AC

July 11, 2024

As temperatures rise, the efficiency and performance of your air conditioning (AC) system become paramount. If you're considering upgrading your AC, understanding SEER ratings is essential to making an informed decision. SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, measures the cooling efficiency of air conditioners and heat pumps. Here's everything you need to know about SEER ratings and how they can impact your choice of a new AC system.

What is a SEER Rating?

The SEER rating of an air conditioner is calculated by dividing the cooling output during a typical cooling season by the total electric energy input during the same period. It indicates how efficiently your AC unit converts electricity into cooling. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the air conditioner.

  • Formula: SEER = Total Cooling Output (BTUs) / Total Electrical Energy Input (Watt-Hours)

Why SEER Ratings Matter

  1. Energy Efficiency: Higher SEER ratings mean better energy efficiency, which translates to lower electricity bills. An AC unit with a higher SEER rating consumes less energy to cool your home compared to a unit with a lower rating.
  2. Environmental Impact: More efficient systems reduce your carbon footprint by consuming less energy. Opting for a high SEER rating is an eco-friendly choice.
  3. Comfort: High-SEER units often come with advanced features such as variable speed fans and better humidity control, leading to improved overall comfort.

SEER Rating Standards

In the United States, the minimum SEER rating for new central air conditioners varies by region:

  • Northern States: Minimum SEER rating of 13.
  • Southern States: Minimum SEER rating of 14 due to the higher cooling demands.

Many modern units boast SEER ratings as high as 20 or more, offering substantial energy savings.

Factors to Consider Before Upgrading

  1. Initial Cost vs. Long-Term Savings: While high-SEER units typically have a higher upfront cost, they can save you money over time through reduced energy bills. Calculate the payback period to determine if the investment is worth it.
  2. Climate: In regions with extreme temperatures, a higher SEER rating can provide significant savings. In milder climates, the difference in energy consumption might be less noticeable.
  3. Size and Installation: Proper sizing and professional installation are crucial for maximizing the efficiency of your new AC unit. An improperly sized unit, regardless of its SEER rating, will not perform efficiently.
  4. Rebates and Incentives: Many utility companies and government programs offer rebates and incentives for purchasing high-efficiency AC units. Check for available programs in your area to offset the initial cost.

Choosing the Right SEER Rating for Your Home

When selecting an AC unit, consider your specific needs and circumstances:

  • Budget: Balance your budget with the desired level of efficiency. A SEER rating between 15-18 offers a good compromise between cost and efficiency for most homeowners.
  • Usage: If you use your AC frequently, investing in a higher SEER rating can lead to more significant savings over time.
  • Existing System: If your current system is more than 10-15 years old, even a moderate upgrade in SEER rating can provide noticeable improvements in efficiency and comfort.


Upgrading your air conditioning system is a significant investment, and understanding SEER ratings is crucial to making the best choice for your home. By selecting a unit with the right balance of efficiency, cost, and performance, you can enjoy a cooler, more comfortable living space while saving on energy bills and reducing your environmental impact. And when you're ready to make the upgrade, contact Godwin’s HVAC team. Our knowledgeable technicians can help you choose the perfect high-SEER AC unit to meet your needs and ensure a smooth installation process. Stay cool and efficient this summer!

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