Should You Buy The Highest SEER System You Can Afford?

Posted on: 17 October 2022

SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is the topline specification for split-unit central air conditioner efficiency. When browsing your options for air conditioning systems, it's usually the first number you'll see touted after system capacity. Your air conditioner's SEER rating is undoubtedly important, but how much difference does it make, and how high should you go?

As it turns out, the answers to these questions aren't straightforward. While high SEER systems will always deliver better energy efficiency, they won't always pay back their costs over the system's lifetime. If you want to make a cost-conscious decision, these three questions will help you decide how high you should go when selecting your new system's energy efficiency.

1. What Are Your Typical Thermostat Settings?

The longer your air conditioner runs, the more energy it will use. While this relationship may seem obvious, it's worth considering how it impacts your utility costs. If you rarely run your air conditioner, you'll save much less money over the long run with a higher-efficiency unit. On the other hand, you can stand to save a lot by upgrading a system used frequently.

Think about where you typically keep your thermostat and how long it takes your air conditioner to cool your home. Does it only run a few times per day, even on very hot days? If so, you may want to consider a more modest upgrade. If your system runs continuously, going for a larger upgrade might significantly reduce your utility bills.

2. What's Your Climate?

If you've noticed that even a base-level air conditioner has a higher SEER than your old unit, it's due to changing national energy-efficiency standards. Newer standards require higher SEER units, but these standards aren't universal. Instead, minimum SEER requirements vary by region. In warmer regions, air conditioners run for more of the year and work harder to keep homes cool.

These regulatory differences are worth keeping in mind because they can inform your purchasing decision. If you live in a warmer part of the country, your air conditioner will work harder, even if you typically keep your thermostat higher. For these regions, going with a higher SEER unit has a greater potential to save money over the system's lifespan.

3. What Other Features Are Available?

Finally, it's worth looking closely at the other features offered by higher SEER units. These systems sometimes include longer warranties, multi-stage blowers, or variable-speed compressors. These features can make the system cheaper to run over the long term or increase its ability to keep your home cool and comfortable.

Even if your situation doesn't otherwise demand a higher SEER unit, it may be worth considering one if it includes other features you like. You'll get improved comfort and a better system while offsetting some of those costs with a lower utility bill.

For more information about AC installation, contact a local company.