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In the market for a new air conditioner? If you’ve started researching new units, you likely already know that SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) measures how energy-efficient an AC is and is something you want to consider when buying a new air conditioner.

When homeowners ask us at Velocity Air Conditioning what a good SEER rating is, this is what we tell them: Any SEER above the national requirement for Florida (14 SEER) is good.

What Is SEER?

SEER is calculated by dividing the total cooling output of an air conditioner during a typical cooling season by the total electric energy input during the same period. Essentially, it gauges how efficiently an air conditioner operates over an entire season.

The U.S. Department of Energy sets minimum SEER rating standards. As of 2023, the minimum SEER rating for central air conditioners in the southern United States, including Florida, is 14.

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency RatingWhy SEER Matters in Florida

Florida’s climate is characterized by high temperatures and humidity levels, especially during the long summer months. This puts a considerable strain on air conditioning systems, making energy efficiency a top priority for homeowners. Higher SEER ratings can translate into lower energy bills, less strain on the power grid, and a reduced environmental footprint.

But if you’re thinking about getting a higher SEER (18+), keep in mind that:

  • A higher SEER doesn’t always mean more overall savings
  • But a higher SEER DOES mean higher comfort levels

Not all higher SEER ratings (18+) guarantee greater long-term savings

Consider the analogy of purchasing a high-quality tool for a home project. A more expensive tool may promise greater efficiency and durability, potentially reducing long-term costs through improved performance and fewer replacements. However, the initial investment in such a tool is higher compared to a basic, less expensive option.

Similarly, air conditioners with higher SEER ratings are designed to be more energy-efficient, resulting in lower monthly utility bills over time. Yet, these units typically come with a higher upfront cost compared to lower SEER models.

Therefore, while opting for a higher SEER rating can lead to enhanced efficiency and savings in the long run, it’s essential to balance these benefits with the initial cost of installation.

Minimum SEER Ratings

The minimum SEER rating of 14 is a baseline standard that ensures a basic level of efficiency. While these units are generally more affordable upfront, they may not offer the best savings on your energy bills in the long run, particularly in Florida’s demanding climate. Investing in a unit with a higher SEER rating can provide significant cost savings over the life of the system.

16 SEER or 21 SEER Air Conditioners, Which Is the Best Deal for the Cost?

A 21 SEER AC will provide cheaper monthly energy bills. But here’s the downside: Even with the monthly savings, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever recoup the higher upfront cost of the unit.

Even when you factor in energy rebates, you still don’t recoup the cost. So, between a 16 SEER and 21 SEER unit, it’s not worth it in the long run to go with the higher SEER if we’re just looking at cost.

However, money isn’t the only factor to consider. Most of the time, a higher SEER also means greater comfort…

More Comfort with Higher SEER (18+ SEER)

Higher SEER (18+) air conditioners deliver superior comfort levels, particularly in regions like Florida, thanks to advanced components such as a 2-stage compressor and a variable-speed blower. These features are absent in lower SEER AC units, which typically operate on a single-speed (single-stage) basis.

The drawback of single-stage ACs is their tendency to cycle on and off frequently during mild weather conditions. This frequent cycling can lead to several comfort issues:

Uneven Cooling: When the AC cycles on and off rapidly, it fails to evenly distribute cooled air throughout the home, resulting in uncomfortable hot and cold spots.

Higher Humidity Levels: Efficient humidity control requires continuous operation of the AC to adequately remove moisture from the air. However, frequent cycling prevents the AC from running long enough to effectively dehumidify the indoor environment, leading to elevated humidity levels and discomfort.

Choosing a higher SEER AC with advanced compressor and blower technologies ensures consistent and efficient cooling, along with better humidity control, ultimately enhancing your overall indoor comfort experience.

Optimal SEER Ratings for Florida

For Florida homeowners, a SEER rating between 16 and 18 is often recommended. Units within this range offer a good balance between initial cost and long-term energy savings. These air conditioners are designed to handle the intense heat and humidity efficiently, ensuring comfort and lower utility bills.

SEER 16-18: These units offer improved efficiency and better performance during peak cooling times. They tend to be more expensive than minimum SEER units but can significantly reduce energy costs over time, making them a cost-effective choice in the long run.

For those looking for the highest efficiency and greatest energy savings, units with SEER ratings of 20 or higher are available. These high-efficiency systems come with advanced features such as variable speed motors and smart thermostats, which provide superior comfort and further energy savings. However, the higher initial cost of these units can be a consideration for some homeowners.

SEER 20+: These units are the most efficient available and offer the best energy savings. They come with advanced technology and features that optimize performance and comfort. The initial investment is higher, but the long-term savings on energy bills can be substantial.

Additional Considerations

While SEER rating is a crucial factor, it’s not the only one to consider when purchasing a new air conditioner. Installation quality, unit size, and maintenance are also critical. An improperly installed or oversized unit can lead to inefficiencies and higher energy costs, regardless of the SEER rating. Regular maintenance is essential to ensure that your air conditioner operates at its rated efficiency.

So, What Did We Learn About Choosing the best SEER rating?

In summary, for Florida homeowners, a SEER rating of 16 to 18 is generally a good choice, balancing upfront costs with long-term energy savings. For those willing to invest more initially for even greater efficiency, SEER ratings of 20 or higher offer the best performance. Ultimately, the right SEER rating for your new air conditioner will depend on your specific needs, budget, and how long you plan to stay in your home. Regardless of the SEER rating you choose, ensuring proper installation and regular maintenance will help maximize the efficiency and lifespan of your air conditioning system, keeping you cool and comfortable in Florida’s challenging climate.

Contact Your HVAC Experts in Clearwater

Ready to upgrade your home’s comfort with a new, energy-efficient air conditioner? Contact Velocity Air Conditioning today to schedule a consultation! Our expert team is here to help you choose and install the perfect SEER rating AC for your Florida home, ensuring optimal efficiency and savings. Don’t wait – beat the heat and enjoy superior comfort with Velocity Air Conditioning. Call us now and take the first step towards a cooler, more energy-efficient home!

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