What Does SEER Mean?


As you shop for a new air conditioner, you’ll likely see the term “SEER Rating” used frequently. The SEER rating tells us how efficient a unit is, with higher ratings indicating greater efficiency.

What SEER Stands For 

When discussing SEER ratings, we first have to consider what this acronym stands for. It’s short for “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.” The ratio is determined by taking the total cooling output during a typical cooling season and dividing it by the total electrical input during that same amount of time. Technically, it’s a ratio and not a rating, but the concept behind SEER is more important than the terminology used.

Good and Bad SEER

Today, the minimum SEER rating in most places in the US is 13. In Colorado, we typically see cooling systems with a minimum SEER rating of 14 or 15, depending on the size of the unit. Our region tends to be more conscious of how much energy we collectively use on cooling our homes in the summer. If your current air conditioning unit has a SEER rating of less than 13, it’s past time to upgrade to more efficient equipment. At True Heating & Cooling in Broomfield, we’re often called out to locations throughout the Denver metro area to replace older air conditioners with more modern ones because people simply want to run more efficient homes.

SEER ratings can be higher than 20, and you could even see a SEER rating of 24 or 25. These numbers indicate tremendous efficiency, and air conditioners at this level are sometimes seen in brand-new builds or renovations. Once you start looking at the prices of air conditioning units, though, the downside to having such a high SEER rating quickly becomes evident. These units are very expensive, sometimes prohibitively so. While it would be a great idea to have a unit that can cool so well using such a small amount of energy, the upfront costs may not be practical for most people.

We see now that “good” and “bad” aren’t the best ways to describe the SEER rating. There are a lot of factors to ponder when getting a new air conditioner, and the balance between price and efficiency is one of the main considerations.

SEER Is The Maximum Ratio 

It should be noted that SEER describes the ratio of cooling output to energy input when looking at the best possible scenario. In other words, the SEER rating you see on an air conditioning unit tells you the efficiency that the unit could potentially achieve. In reality, any loss of energy due to insufficient insulation, extreme outdoor temperature, or whether someone has accidentally left a window open will affect how much energy you really end up using.

Another way to think about SEER is to compare it to your car’s fuel efficiency. When you first bought your car, it came with a sticker that stated its estimated fuel economy. Chances are that when it’s really windy out, when you have heavy cargo or a full load of passengers, or when you’re in a hurry and hitting the gas pedal, you won’t be achieving those estimated fuel economy numbers.

Improving Efficiency 

If you’re looking to lower your carbon footprint, there are many things you can do. Having a professional technician tune-up your system by cleaning out your ducts and replacing any worn-out components can be important. This can get your air conditioner working at a level close to what its SEER rating indicates.

How To Get A High SEER Rating 

For some customers, a higher SEER rating can make a unit very attractive. It can potentially improve the resale value of a house, give a homeowner peace of mind, and lower utility bills significantly. So, how can you afford a unit with a higher SEER rating? At True Heating & Cooling, we’d be happy to work with anyone in the Broomfield or Denver area to help arrange their air conditioner installation. Sometimes, there are rebates and tax credits that units with high SEER ratings may be eligible for. We also offer a discount to seniors and veterans on new installations and provide financing on approved credit.

Here To Help 

At True Heating & Cooling, we’ve worked hard to build our reputation as a dependable, trustworthy provider of heating and cooling services. We’re NATE-certified, knowledgeable, friendly, and always ready to answer questions. Our services include installation, maintenance, and repair of both heating and cooling equipment. Contact us today to discuss this further or to schedule an appointment.