14 SEER vs 16 SEER: Which AC SEER rating is best for you?
Getting the right AC for your home is important. So the added complexity of having so many models to choose from can be intimidating. If you’re concerned about having a unit that’s good for the environment and your bottom line, then you’ll need to balance the SEER rating with the overall cost of the AC.
What is a SEER Rating?
SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) ratings are a measure for how many watts the appliance needs to create a change in BTUs (British Thermal Units). There are multiple complex formulas used to derive the final number, but the main point is the higher the SEER number, the more efficient the unit. The most high-tech models on the market right now have a rating of SEER 26.
In Arizona, and in many other states, the legal minimum rating for a new installation is SEER 14. But there are some factors that can help you decide whether to bump your choice up to SEER 16.
Should I Get a SEER 16 AC?
Whether you’re going to be using the unit all throughout the year makes a big difference. Consistent usage always erodes the SEER value, so if you’re only planning on using the machine on-and-off, in a second home, for example, then a SEER 14 unit is sensible. A well-used model will go down in SEER ratings at a rough rate of -1 each decade.
If you’re more concerned by the short-term, then calculating the amount of monthly difference in your electricity bill would make sense. This depends on how much your electric load in kilowatt hours is on average during each month. Factoring in your utility’s rates, you should be able to work out how long it will take for the SEER 16 unit, which is about 13% more efficient than a SEER 14, to have saved you enough money to make up for its expense.
The gap between SEER 16 and 14 is not wide. If the only SEER 16 units you see are more than 20% the cost of the 14’s available to you, then you might as well save for a SEER 17 at least.
You could also consider alternative efficiency measures, like installing an inverter. These, combined with a cared-for and sparingly-used SEER-14 unit can give many SEER-16 models a run for their money.
This is just the surface-level of AC knowledge. If you ever have a question or request, reach out to A Quality, where we have expert support available 24/7 at 623-853-1482.