Serving Greenwood, Fishers, Carmel, Indianapolis & Surrounding Areas

January 21, 2021

What Do SEER Ratings Mean?

One of the most significant expenses for homes in Greenwood, Fishers, Carmel, and the surrounding areas is replacing an old HVAC system or installing heating and cooling equipment in a home that is under construction. At Complete Comfort Heating, Air, and Plumbing, we work with many homeowners who want professional guidance when finding the best HVAC system for their budget and comfort needs. SEER ratings help consumers find systems that are energy-efficient and that they can affordable.

What Is a SEER Rating?

When you are comparing heating and cooling systems for your home, you will see a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) from the manufacturer. The rating is based on how much output the unit provides compared to the amount of energy needed to operate the system. SEER ratings are an indication of the maximum efficiency of the HVAC equipment.


On heating systems, you will see a SEER and Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) rating. Although the two are somewhat similar, HSPF ratings are specific to heating systems. As with SEER ratings, higher HSPF ratings, such as eight or 10, indicate more energy efficiency. The ENERGY STAR® designation for heating systems requires the unit to have a SEER rating of 12 or higher. You should consider both ratings when choosing a new HVAC system for your home.

How are SEER Ratings Determined?

Manufacturers are responsible for determining the SEER rating for each of their models based on standards set by the U.S. Department of Energy. The rating is calculated by taking the cooling output of the unit and dividing it by the electric energy that is used during the same time period. SEER ratings are based on a typical season when households may need cooling from their HVAC systems. You should note that SEER ratings reflect maximum efficiency under specific conditions. The actual efficiency of a unit depends on several factors.

Benefits of High SEER Ratings

HVAC systems that have higher SEER ratings are more energy efficient. You can expect to use less energy for operation compared to a similar unit with a lower SEER rating. Ideally, a SEER rating helps you understand the return on your investment that you see through reduced utility costs.

What Is the Best SEER Rating?

The U.S. Department of Energy has defined a minimum SEER rating of 13 for new HVAC systems. You can find units that range from 13 to 21, and the ENERGY STAR® designation requires a 14.5 SEER rating. A SEER rating of eight or nine is typical for older units. Units with higher SEER ratings tend to cost more, yet save you the most on utility costs. If you need to stay within a budget, the experts at Complete Comfort Heating, Air, and Plumbing help homeowners in Greenwood and surrounding areas find HVAC systems with the highest SEER ratings that fit within their budgets.

How Reliable Is a SEER Rating?

SEER ratings are required by the U.S. Department of Energy, and manufacturers must follow certain guidelines when assigning the rating to specific models. But SEER rating should only be part of why you choose a certain system. The type of system makes a difference as far as energy efficiency. Newer technologies allow for comfort year-round, and you can find some additional savings by choosing these technologies. Overall utility costs also depend on how you operate the system, and we can recommend upgrades to reduce energy utilization, such as programmable thermostats and zone systems. Lastly, look into the average lifespan of the units that fit within your budget. As the system ages, it will run less efficiently, and your utility costs may gradually increase as a result.

Types of HVAC Systems with High SEER Ratings

Higher SEER ratings are the result of designs that are proven to boost efficiency. Most units with lower SEER ratings have a single-stage design that operates with only one speed. Single-stage units not only cost more for operation, but also increase humidity levels, create uneven temperatures in your home, and tend to wear out faster compared to units with high SEER ratings. HVAC units with higher SEER ratings rely on two-stage designs with blowers and fans that have variable speeds. Two-stage cooling systems save energy by using the maximum blower and compressor speed when you need to make significant changes to indoor temperatures. Once the desired temperature is reached, the system lowers the blower and compressor speed to maintain the temperature.

Is a System With a High SEER Rating Right for Every Home?

In most cases, an older cooling system can be replaced with a model that has a high SEER rating. We recommend that you schedule an evaluation with one of our technicians to learn more about your options. The technician may find that you can easily replace the unit, or you may need to upgrade other parts of the HVAC equipment to maximize efficiency.

Calculating Cost Savings with SEER Ratings

Many Greenwood homeowners want to know how much money can be saved on utility costs should they install a unit with a specific SEER rating. This can be a daunting task without in-depth knowledge and expertise in heating and cooling systems, and the experts at Complete Comfort Heating, Air, and Plumbing can help. We can give you an estimate of how much each unit will cost to operate under typical conditions and provide tips on how you can get the most out of your new HVAC equipment.

Factors That Affect Maximum Energy Efficiency

As you consider cooling systems with specific SEER ratings, it’s important to remember what the rating tells you. SEER ratings are determined by the manufacturer based on operation within controlled environments. Additionally, SEER ratings represent maximum efficiency, not average or typical. Factors that may affect the actual efficiency of your HVAC system are:

  • Square footage of your home
  • Condition of your ductwork
  • Other components of your heating and cooling system
  • Typical operation that affects energy efficiency, such as constantly changing the thermostat
  • Maintenance history of your HVAC equipment, including timely and appropriate repairs
  • Quality of thermostats and other controls
  • Weather patterns and average temperatures

Tips for Maximizing Efficiency of SEER-Rated Systems

Here are tips for homeowners to maximize the energy efficiency of SEER-rated HVAC systems:

  • Schedule routine maintenance with Complete Comfort Heating, Air, and Plumbing, ideally in the spring and fall
  • Have repairs performed as soon as problems arise
  • Keep the thermostats at consistent settings
  • Have the ductwork cleaned at least every three to five years
  • Replace older components with energy-efficient options

Learn More About SEER Ratings

Complete Comfort Heating, Air, and Plumbing offer heating, cooling, plumbing, and indoor air quality services in central Indiana, including Greenwood and surrounding areas. We can help you find a heating and cooling system with a SEER rating that will reduce your energy costs. Be sure to ask about all of our installation, repair, and maintenance services.

Contact us at Complete Comfort Heating Air & Plumbing in Greenwood, IN, today for more information on heating, air conditioning & plumbing service. Call us at (317) 648-5133.

Author Bio:

Brittany Katterjohn

Brittany is a marketer, entrepreneur, and writer with previous business development experience in the home maintenance industry. She currently manages the marketing for Complete Comfort Heating, Air & Plumbing and has a passion for helping people by simplifying seemingly complicated topics related to home maintenance and repair.

Connect with her on LinkedIn