SEER Rating Explained: What is a Good SEER Rating?

It can be difficult to wade through all the different brands and information looking for a new air conditioner.  You’ll need to choose the best model for your region and climate, and the best size for your home.

And if you want tax rebates, savings, or something high performance, there are even more factors to consider. But one of the main factors, and one of the most confusing, is the SEER rating of an air conditioner or heat pump.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through all you need to know about SEER ratings and how to find the best air conditioner for your needs.

What is a SEER Rating?

The SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and is a rating scale system for measuring air conditioner efficiency in small, easy-to-understand numbers. The SEER rating for your air conditioning unit will be listed on a sticker usually found on the exterior of the unit.

This energy guide system was created as a result of legislation passed in 1987 that required air conditioners to have minimum performance levels.

Minimum SEER Ratings

All central ACs were required to have a minimum SEER rating of 10 in 1992 and by 2006 that minimum was raised to 13. In certain regions of the country, like the south and southwest, that minimum standard is raised even farther to 14.

In 2023, regulations will require a minimum SEER of 14 for the northern U.S. and 15 for the southern U.S.

Year North South & SW
1992 10 10
2006 13 13
2015 13 14
2023 14 15

SEER ratings are compiled using standard formulas to help you determine how much you can expect to pay annually in energy costs. This lets you compare air conditioning units and pick the one that best suits your needs.

Remember, though, a SEER rating is an average. There are other factors such as insulation, windows, size of the home, ductwork, etc. that weigh in on how efficient your air conditioning or heat pump is.

Difference between SEER and EER

The EER or Energy Efficiency Ratio is a rating used for window air conditioners while SEER is used to rate central air conditioners and heat pumps.

The SEER looks at the expected energy efficiency for an entire season, testing efficiency at temperatures ranging from 65 to 104 degrees while EER only determines energy efficiency at 95 degrees.

Both SEER and EER are like a miles per gallon rating on an air conditioner giving you the highest expected amount of cooling per watt-hours of energy.

What is a Good SEER Rating?

A good SEER rating is typically 14 or higher. The average efficiency rating for a central air conditioner in operation today is 16 but high energy-efficient models can have ratings as high as 23.

A better question is what is the right SEER rating for your home?

Since each home’s needs are different, a one size fits all SEER rating doesn’t work for picking a high-efficiency air conditioner. Today’s newer air conditioners, particularly Energy Star certified. ones, are a constantly evolving technology, making them more energy-efficient than previous models. As a result, you save money on cooling your home no matter what the SEER rating.

Benefits of a Higher SEER Rating

While SEER 14 is good for most homes, systems that are high efficiency are worth looking at. A rating above 16 SEER is associated with lower energy consumption, which translates to less money spent on energy costs.

Replacing an 8 SEER AC or heat pump unit with a 16 SEER one may save you up to 50 percent on your energy bill. Additionally, there are government incentives and rebates for high-efficiency AC systems that can help lower the cost of the upgrade.

Regional differences

In 2006, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) established a minimum SEER requirement of 13 for air conditioners. Another modification was made by the DOE in 2015.

This time, the required SEER was increased from 13 to 14, but only for certain states. The change concerned primarily those states located in the south and southwest of the country. If you reside in northern states, your minimum SEER rating is currently 13 but by 2023 that will be raised to 14.

How Does SEER Rating Affect Costs?

Choosing to buy a higher SEER air conditioner or heat pump will depend on how much more efficient you want it to be.

Let’s look:

  • You could pay an extra $900 to $1,500 for going from a 14 SEER system to a 16 SEER one.
  • If you upgrade from a 14 SEER unit to a 21 SEER unit, prices may climb as much as $3,000 or even $5,000 above the cost of a typical 14 SEER system.
  • Additionally, the cost of repairing a high SEER system can be higher than a standard system, but it’s important to note that it’s not anymore likely to need repairs than a standard system.

A high-efficiency air conditioner has a two-stage system that has a low and high setting, making it easier for the air conditioner to keep temperatures at your preferred settings with less energy. While dual-stage systems save you money by being more efficient they are also more costly to repair.

  • If your compressor on your 14 SEER system goes out (and it’s not under warranty), repairs will start at around $1300.
  • However, if your compressor on a 21 SEER system fails (again without a warranty), the repair costs start at $2000.

Additional reading: How much does it cost to install AC in my Home?                                      Call us today: (703) 992-5243   (Just Green HVAC Services, LLC)

Are High SEER AC Units Worth It?

A 14 SEER standard is either on or off. This means that the fan and compressor are always at full speed while cooling your house. A higher SEER unit, with a two-stage AC compressor, has two settings: low and high.

When the air conditioner system starts up, it automatically comes on in low gear and runs very effectively as long as the load permits. When it can’t keep up the air conditioning system then it shifts into high gear until the temperature stabilizes, then downshifts to a more energy-efficient speed.

The blower fan offers the same performance. The lower speeds can meet 80 percent of your cooling demands roughly half the time, so it will run more often. There are two major advantages to this: fewer hot/cold areas and less humidity.

Two more advantages of higher SEER ratings: eco-friendliness and less noise. If you’re serious about going green, an upgrade will get you to your goals. High-efficiency systems use up to one-third less fuel than older AC models, allowing them to save even more natural resources.

More efficient systems are much quieter than standard 14 SEER systems. This comes in handy when you have to place the outdoor unit next to a bedroom window. Additionally, some HOAs or local codes may require you to use quieter systems depending on the proximity of homes.

SEER Ratings Chart

What’s the Difference Between a 14 SEER and 16 SEER?

As stated, two of the most common choices for air conditioners and heat pumps are systems with efficiency levels of 14 SEER and 16 SEER. But is the jump from a 14 SEER to a 16 SEER worth the added cost? Let’s look.

A 16 SEER AC system is approximately 13 to 14 percent more efficient than a 14 SEER unit. While energy pricing across the country fluctuates (and remember this is at maximum efficiency), a 14 percent savings would save you $13 to $14 for every $100 you spend on your energy bill now.

With the 16 SEER, you will still get the same technology as a 14 SEER, but the advantage is the savings over the lifetime of the unit.

What’s the Difference Between a 14 SEER and 20 SEER?

Anything above a 17 SEER has advanced technology, like two-stage and variable compressors along with variable speed condenser fan motors. These extra controls help protect the equipment and keep your home comfortable without as much work for the HVAC unit.

A 20 SEER AC unit is 43 percent more energy efficient than a 14 SEER system, making it very eco-friendly. However, the cost difference for a 20 SEER unit vs a 14 SEER system is significant so make sure you do the math for your situation.

Where to Look for High SEER Rated Systems

The best place to look for a high SEER rated air conditioning or heat pump system is with your local HVAC company. While you can go to a big box store and find high SEER rated systems it is best to buy your system based on your home rather than on simple price and reviews.

The installation plays a primary role in your air conditioning unit’s ability to keep your home comfortable. An HVAC professional will evaluate your home for insulation, square footage, windows, and other factors that affect how your air conditioning keeps your home comfortable.

With this information in hand, an HVAC pro will help you navigate the size, pricing, and SEER rating best suited for you and your home.

Additional reading: Heat Pump vs Air Conditioner: Which is Right for you?

Homan is Here to Help You Navigate Your Home Cooling Needs

If you are confused by SEER ratings, AC and heat pump options or simply need expert advice, a Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning consultant can help. Our technicians can perform a full inspection of your current system and your home and give you options.

If you know that it is time for an HVAC upgrade or want to replace your current HVAC system with a high efficiency system, give us a call for a quote (703) 992-5243. We offer a variety of flexible financing options, and we’ll walk you through the process of how to pay for your new system.

Avoid extra costs and fewer repairs by scheduling a tune up for your existing system before issues arise. Our maintenance plans keep your system running like clockwork without any stress or hassle. No matter what you need we’re always just a phone call away. You are welcome to review our statement on COVID 19 and how we’re taking precautions to protect you, our team, and our communities.


An air conditioner or heat pump’s compressor creates the cooling capacity for the system and can come in single-stage, two-stage or variable-speed options. Each of these compressors offers the ability to run 100% capacity when demand requires it.

Single-stage: Traditionally, base model compressors are single-stage, which means the compressor runs full ON or OFF. With these models, your cooling system turns ON at 100% capacity and then OFF until your thermostat or control system reach the temperature setting you have selected.

For example: if your single-stage unit has a 3-ton capacity (measured in capacity, not weight), it will use all 3-ton or 100% capacity to cool your indoor space. The unit cycle ON and OFF as many times as necessary to meet your indoor temperature request!

Two-Stage: Two-stage compressor offer two capacity options. It’s like having two units built into one — a low capacity one to handle a smaller demand and a larger one to meet heavier demands.  If condition exist that 100% capacity is not required, a two-stage compressor can operate at lower speed, offering part-capacity to reach your desire indoor temperature.

While may mean that your unit’s ON cycle time will be lengthened, the power needed to support the lower speed would be reduced compared to a simple, single-speed system.

Variable-speed: Variable-speed compressor technology allows the unit to run at the speed the best meets your comfort needs coupled with energy-efficient operation. A variable -speed air conditioner or heat pump is designed and engineered specifically to provide the output needed at the lowest consumption of power.

Just like a car’s various gears, variable speed compressors can operate at various levels of the output depending on the conditions. Systems with variable-speed technology may run at the full capacity on hot summer days or reduced capacity for milder days. It is a great energy-efficient option when compared to the single-speed unit.

Once the indoor temperature you set on the thermostat or control system is achieved, the variable-speed unit will strive to operate at the lowest speed possible to deliver consistent, energy-efficient comfort into your home.


Because a variable-speed air conditioner or heat pump can adjust capacity for demand, it may longer than a single-stage unit under the same conditions. However, as the Department of Energy suggests, operating the compressor at the lower speeds for a longer duration may reduce the total energy consumption required to cool your indoor spaces of your home without a loss of the unit’s ability to cool your home.


What is the difference between a single-stage and a two-stage air conditioner?

The main difference between the two-stage of ACs is the type of compressor they use (the part of the AC that compressor the refrigerant)

A single-stage air conditioner’s compressor only works one level of operation—cooling your home at full blast.

A two-stage air conditioner’s compressor works at two levels of operations:

1) High for hot summer days (the equivalent of full blast for single-stage ACs)

2) Low for milder days when you don’t need as much cooling


What are the benefits of getting the tow-stage over the single-stage air conditioner?

The two main benefits of getting the two-stage air conditioner are:

1) Greater energy efficiency (meaning lower energy bill)

2) Greater comfort

Let’s explain why.

Greater energy efficiency

Like a car, an air conditioner coast less to operate when it turns on and of less often. Each time the AC start up, it cost more because of the energy needed to star up.

A single-stage air conditioner turns on and off more frequently because it can only cool at one speed, the turns off once it reaches thermostat setting.

But the two-stage air conditioner can meet your cooling needs about 80% of the time with its low setting, meaning it will run more often without as many starts and stops.

Greater comfort

Because the two-stage air conditioner runs more often, it will provide more even cooling and can remove twice as much moisture/humidity from your air.

Furnace Emergencies-It is Time to Call in a Professional

1.Electrical Issues Seem to be the Problem

Electricity plays a critical role in how your home operates. You rely on your home’s electrical system to provide power when you need it, and that could be powering your  heating and cooling systems.

Your lights should not flicker when your system turns on. Electrical issues should bead dressed by a professional. Understanding the basics of your electrical system can help you identify and avoid potential hazards but leave nothing to chance.

Do not put yourself or someone else in danger by attempting repairs you are not qualified to do.

  1. Electrical failures or malfunctions were factors in an estimated 43,700 home fires.
  2. These fires cause 430 deaths and 1,620 injuries.
  3. Causing approximately $1.5 billion in property damage.


  1. Furnace is Making Unusual and Loud Noises

Someone a furnace maybe running fine, but loudly. If you can tell the noise is a result of the air running through the ductwork, one solution may be to insulate your ductwork to cut down on the noise. If the actual furnace system is making odd noise, this can occur when the pilot light is improperly adjusted, or the blower motor lubrication ports need oiling. There may also be an issue with the belts or even the burner.

What are the different noises coming from your furnace?

  1. Pining or popping sounds- could be thermal expansion- the ductwork expanding and contracting as it heats and cools.
  2. Rattling noises – loose panels may need to be tightened.
  3. Squealing noises- could be a belt that connects the motor to the fan slipped. Or the belt needs replacement.
  1. Grinding sounds-probably time to call a furnace repair technical. The motor bearings need repair.

When to call a professional: while it may not seem like an emergency, you should have furnace system noises checked out by a service technical, Early detection of a problem may save you from further damage and a large repair bill in the future.


  1. HVAC System is Turning on and Off Rapidly

The first may be a dirty or worn-out air filter. If you have not replaced it within very recent memory, try doing so-it’s a quick and easy fix.

Using old filters puts more stress on the compressor and lead to mechanical failures  over time. If a new filter does not solve the problem, you may have a more serious situation. There may be an issues with the blower motor and belts and both require the service of a professional.


  1. there is an Unpleasant Odor: You Smell Rotten Eggs/ Sulfur

If you smell gas, leave home immediately. First things first-make sure the residents of your home are safe before you try to get your problem fixed. If you smell a strange odor, everyone should leave the space immediately.

Note that you cannot actually smell or see natural gas. That’s why a substance is added to it, called mercaptan. It smells unattractive-something to the effect of a rotten egg. The smell is very distinct, so you can immediately determine if there is a gas leak in the house.

What Should I do if Smell Gas?

1)Get your family out immediately

2) Do not turn on or off any lights-the smell electrical arc created could cause the gas to ignite.

3) not turn on the stove.

4) If windows are open, leave them. If you are able to open a few windows on the way out the door, then do so, but quickly.

5) Do not use the phone or cell phone in your house.

6) If the car is in the garage, leave it. Starting the car could cause an explosion-so could

the mere act of opening the garage door using the door opener.

7) Go to your neighbor’s or outside to call for service.

8) Consider keeping the family out of the house if the service call is delayed.

Plan to stay elsewhere until the gas leak is fixed.

8) Only turn off your gas if it is safe to do so. And call an emergency right away.


  1. Your Heating System/Furnace Is Blowing Cold Air

Make sure the blower is clear of any debris. Also, there should be a flashing light, green or red.

If the light is green, it’s okay; if red, call for service. And if there is no light, the furnace problem may be with the thermostat, the blower motor, the run capacitor, furnace control board or transformer.


  1. Your Flame Is not Blue

Check the color of your pilot light flame. If your flames are closer to a yellow color, it could be a combustion problem. With combustion problems, you must be ware of excess carbon monoxide.

Carbon Monoxide is different to detect. It’s been coined the “silent killer” for a reason.

It does not have a smell, color, or taste. It can be found in your home from your fireplace, gas ranges, and furnace. The build-up indoors can poison people and their pets who breath it.


Natural gas consists of methane and when it burns, it gives off a blue color. When you check your furnace flame, and the color is “off”, it is to call a HVAC professional.

A combination and soot can also cause burns to malfunction. The burner assembly should be cleaned annually or replaced if the existing one is in poor condition.


  1. Your Heat Suddenly Turns Off

This may not be an immediate emergency.

There are a few things you can do before calling for repair service:

1) Check your air filter-the filters keep your system clean. If it is clogged, it may cause

your system to turn off.

2) Check your thermostat- Depending on the type of thermostat you have, you may need to replace the batteries.

3) Reset your home circuit breaker.


Your Furnace Deserves Your Attention

A quality furnace system is one of the most important investments you can make in your home. The system adds both value and comfort to your living space and should be regularly maintained to keep it in top working order.

Developing a partnership with a trusted HVAC professional is one good way to educate yourself about your furnace and to feel confident about any repairs you have done.

Remember, while attempting do-it-yourself repairs can be satisfying and cost-effective, it is crucial to be sure that you have the skills before attempting any work on your furnace.

Nest E Vs. Nest 3 Thermostat: A Handy Guide On Choosing Between The Two

During any season, your thermostat must be working properly so you can adjust the temperature and keep yourself cool or warm without paying expensive energy bills. 

These days, people install smart thermostats because you can easily adjust your home’s temperature from your smartphone. Whether during the summer’s scorching heat or the bone-chilling cold in the winter, controlling your home’s temperature becomes more manageable with a functional, smart thermostat. You can save a lot because you don’t have to run your ac daily while everyone is out. It’s just a waste of energy and money.

Nest thermostat

We all know about the popularity of smart thermostats. A lot of companies are manufacturing reliable and trusted thermostats to meet the demand of the consumers. One of the most notable and dependable brands in the market today is Nest. Through the years, Nest has been able to release some best-selling and robust thermostats that are considered to be the best in the market today. Two of their most popular and successful releases are Nest thermostat e and Nest 3rd generation thermostat.

The difference between Nest thermostat e and Nest 3rd generation thermostat

Both of these are good options and though they may appear the same, there is a slight difference between them, and it can be quite noticeable. So, what are their differences? Well, Nest 3rd generation has a larger display and comes with a higher resolution compared to Nest thermostat e. Nest 3rd generation also has farsight features while the Nest doesn’t have it. If you want your thermostat to blend in, choose Nest E as it has a plastic shell that blends well with the surroundings. On the other hand, Nest 3rd gen is also a good option because its black and silver metal color makes it eye-catching.

Nest E is a 6-wire system that only supports fewer HVAC systems, while Nest 3rd gen has 10 wire systems making it a great option. Plus, Nest 3rd gen has crystal clear lcd compared to Nest E that uses frosted glass. When it comes to warranty, Nest 3rd gen offers one year longer than Nest E. However, the price difference between the two could range up to $75 with Nest 3rd gen being a bit expensive.

Are there similarities between the two?

Apart from the things mentioned above, everything else is similar between the two thermostats. For example, both installations are fairly simple and can function through wireless communication so it means, you can use it through the use of a mobile app, voice commands and other third-party apps. The Nest airwave features are available on both systems plus both use the iconic Nest leaf.

So when choosing a thermostat that is best for your home, it all comes down to what you want and what your budget can allow. Whatever your option might be, choosing a Nest thermostat is always a good investment for your home. 


4 Signs That You Need A New HVAC System

There is no doubt that your HVAC system is one of the biggest investments that you make for your home. It plays a very important role in making your home livable