What Does An Air Conditioner’s SEER Rating Actually Mean?

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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 as well as your 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. Here is some more information on this topic.

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What Does An Air Conditioners SEER Rating Actually Mean?

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating refers to the measure of the cooling output of an HVAC system compared to the total energy consumed in one year. It typically ranges from 13 to 21, and the efficiency of the cooling system increases with the SEER rating.

Importance Of SEER

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Before you install an air conditioner, it is prudent to know its SEER rating because the right system will give you the following benefits:

  • Lower cooling costs – A highly efficient HVAC system cools your home to the required temperature while consuming less energy. This means that choosing the right SEER rating can help you lower your energy costs
  • Better comfort – According to professional HVAC contractors, a well-performing air conditioner should be able to cool a 4-bedroom house by 10 degrees Fahrenheit in just 3 hours. While this depends on factors such as the size and age of the A/C, the right SEER rating should give you much-needed comfort in your home
  • More eco-friendly cooling – An air conditioner that consumes less energy emits fewer greenhouse gases. In other words, an HVAC system that has a high SEER rating is more eco-friendly.
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What Is A Good SEER Rating?

In general, any rating above 14 is a good rating. However, to determine the best rating for your needs, you should consider factors such as the size of your home, your cooling needs, and your preferred energy consumption rate. Even so, a high SEER rating translates to high efficiency. Since the efficiency of an HVAC system largely depends on the size of your home, be sure to consult a professional HVAC contractor to help you determine the appropriate SEER rating for your home. This is because, while a 14-SEER air conditioner may cool a two-bedroom home efficiently, a 5-bedroom house will require a cooling system with a higher SEER rating.

How SEER Rating Is Calculated

image of hands and calculator calculating ac seer efficiency rating

To calculate the SEER rating of your cooling system, divide the total cooling output of the year by the total electric energy input. Here, you need to first find the cooling output by multiplying the British Thermal Unit per hour (BTU/h) by the number of cooling hours in a day, then multiply this by the number of days the cooling system worked in the year. For instance:

5,000 BTU/h x 12 cooling hours per day x 180 days per year = 10,800,000 BTUs per year.
If your total energy consumption for the year is 700,000Wh, your SEER rating will be as follows:
10,800,000/700,000 = 15.4 SEER

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How To Find A SEER Rating On An Air Conditioner

The US Department of Energy requires HVAC manufacturers to indicate the SEER rating on their cooling systems as well as put the Energy Star label for qualified models. That said, to find the SEER rating on your air conditioner, locate a yellow and black sticker, usually placed on the side of the condenser unit. This sticker should contain a clearly indicated SEER rating.

Alternatively, check on your air handler for the SEER rating. If these two options won’t help you, then find the name of the manufacturer, model number, and serial number and search for the HVAC system online or call the manufacturer.

In case you feel like this is too much work, don’t hesitate to call an expert HVAC contractor to come and help you. Otherwise, it shouldn’t be hard for you to locate the SEER rating unless the manufacturer did not label it clearly.

What Are Mismatched Cooling Systems?

couple feeling hot and sticky due to broken air conditioner

For optimum performance of your air conditioning system, the condenser unit and the air handler must match. To achieve this, manufacturers make air handlers that are only compatible with certain condensers. This means that HVAC contractors should also install the air handlers and condensers in their matched pairs. The bad news is that this does not always happen, especially if you hire an inexperienced contractor.

Furthermore, when the size of the air conditioner does not match your home, then it is also a mismatched system. This means that the air conditioner is too large or too small for your home. When an air conditioner is too large, it will short cycle. This leads to short cycles that can cool your home. However, the cycle will not run long enough for the air conditioner to remove humidity or to filter your air. The consequence is poor indoor air quality and discomfort. Likewise, the short cycles lead to more energy consumption since more energy is used when the system repeatedly turns off and on. An undersized system will run for long cycles but the system will have to overwork, leading to wear and tear, frequent HVAC repairs, and premature replacement. In the meantime, the homeowner will pay astronomical energy costs.

Since your HVAC system efficiency will reduce with a mismatched system regardless of its SEER rating, you should ensure that the person who installs it understands this. To avoid the case of a mismatched cooling system, talk to a qualified HVAC contractor.

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Other Factors To Consider When Choosing A Cooling System

Apart from the SEER rating, you should also put in mind the following factors when choosing the right HVAC system for your home:

  • Size – Oversized and undersized cooling systems generally consume more energy
  • Price – Be sure to stick to your budget
  • Noise – Less efficient air conditioning systems produce a lot of noise since they overwork
  • Warranty – This guarantees you a replacement or repair in case your system does not work as expected



A good SEER rating means greater energy efficiency, and therefore, lower energy cost. Besides a good SEER rating, an ENERGY STAR Certified air conditioner can help you cut your energy costs even further and protect the environment at the same time. For all your heating and cooling needs and queries, contact a professional HVAC contractor to help you select the best HVAC system and maintain it.

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McAllister Energy offers high-quality HVAC services in Camden County, New Jersey. We hire only the best professionally certified technicians who conduct superior heating and cooling services. Some of our HVAC services include HVAC maintenance, heating and cooling installations, repairs, ductless systems, and much more. All our techs provide accurate HVAC services on time, every time.

Our company guarantees affordable heating and cooling service rates. Our maintenance services can increase your home’s comfort, energy efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. We can also provide you with a highly energy-efficient HVAC replacement system that fits your budget. Your satisfaction is important to us, so all our work comes with a guarantee. Book a service appointment with McAllister Energy today. We provide free, in-home estimates.

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