What Does SEER Mean?

May 8, 2017 | Air Conditioning

Child surrounded by books learning about SEER in Seattle, WA

When it comes to your air conditioner, a common term used in the HVAC business that you’re likely to see everywhere is your air conditioner’s SEER. But what exactly is SEER?

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It’s a rating system of the air conditioner’s cooling capacity to power input, i.e., it’s the ratio of the amount of cooling produced (in BTUs) divided by the amount of electricity (in watts) used. The higher the SEER, the greater the air conditioner’s efficiency.

The U.S. EPA requires residential air-conditioner systems manufactured after January 1, 2015, to have a minimum SEER rating of 14. Older air conditioners have a SEER rating of 10 or under. You can usually find your system’s SEER rating on the yellow-and-black EnergyGuide sticker on the outside of your unit.

Saving Money by Upgrading

If your system is ten to 15 years old but continues keeping you cool in the summer, you might still want to consider investing in a newer unit. By upgrading to a modern, more efficient model, depending on your current unit’s SEER, you could save quite a bit of money annually on your cooling bill.

The Department of Energy has accessible online energy-efficiency calculators you can find to help you predict the energy costs you’ll save with different units carrying various SEER ratings. If you’d like a more precise analysis, call Ballard Natural Gas Service, and we’d be happy to send one of our knowledgeable technicians out to go over the possible savings with you.

How to Decide Which SEER Is for You

To carry the Energy Star® label, an air conditioner must be in the top 25 percent of efficient models and have a minimum SEER of 14. But automatically purchasing an air conditioner with a higher SEER isn’t the go-to answer; the SEER rating represents the potential efficiency of the unit under perfect conditions. Much of the system’s efficiency depends on the right sizing of the unit for your home, along with correct installation and an evaluation of other factors as well.

Also, keep in mind that your air conditioner doesn’t operate within a vacuum; it’s directly tied to your furnace or heating system. Depending on what equipment you presently have and its age, this definitely factors into your air conditioner’s SEER rating. Even though your proposed new unit has an 18 SEER, once married to your current furnace, the SEER may decrease to a 15 or 16. What you need to aim for is the right-sized equipment operating at its optimal ratings within varying conditions for the best savings and comfort for you.

Ballard Natural Gas Service has specialist technicians who calculate these various factors when proposing the optimal system for your home, comfort, and budget. Give us a call or request service online, and we’d be happy to help you with any of your air-conditioner needs.


Ballard Natural Gas Service is proud to offer services to Seattle, Shoreline, West Seattle, Capitol Hill, Lake Forest Park, Richmond Beach, Bellevue, Mercer Island, Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace and the surrounding communities. Call us at 206-784-8101 or request service online today!

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