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14 vs 16 SEER: Which Is Better for My Texas Home?

March 03, 2020

Light blue illustration of an AC unit.

If you’re shopping for a new air conditioner, you may be wondering if you should go with a 14-SEER system (the minimum requirement in our area), or a more energy-efficient system (16+ SEER).

Generally speaking, we recommend going with a 16-SEER AC over a 14-SEER AC because it will save you more money in the long run.

To explain our answer above and give more context, we’ll answer the following SEER-related questions:

  • Why is 14 the lowest SEER rating I can get?
  • Do the energy savings from a 16-SEER AC justify its higher upfront cost?
  • Besides energy savings, are there other benefits with a high-SEER AC?

Before you jump in, if you need a primer on SEER-ratings, you can refer to our blog, “What SEER Rating Should I Buy for My San Marcos Home?

Want to speak with a pro about getting the right AC for your needs and budget? We can help!

If you’ve researched SEER before, you may be confused seeing some sources tell you that 13 is the lowest SEER rating you can get, while others say it’s 14.

The reason there’s a discrepancy is because the minimum federal SEER requirement varies depending on where you live.

In Texas, the minimum SEER requirement is 14. Warmer regions (like ours) have a higher SEER requirement because we use our air conditioners more often than residents in colder regions like Michigan.

The bottom line: If you’re looking to buy a new AC for your Texas home, the lowest SEER you can buy is 14.

Do the energy savings from a 16-SEER AC justify its higher upfront cost?

As you probably already know, high-SEER ACs cost more upfront, but they can save you money over time in the form of lower energy bills.

We know the biggest question on your mind is if the long-term savings from a high-SEER system (16+) will pay for the higher installation cost of the system.

Generally, in our area, the answer is yes—the savings from a high-SEER AC will typically pay for the difference in upfront cost.

According to the Lennox Energy Savings Calculator, a 16-SEER AC will save about 13% per year more than a 14-SEER unit. In terms of dollars, that looks like this:

  • $475 over 5 years
  • $950 over 10 years
  • $1,425 over 15 years

That’s why for homeowners who can afford to do so, we recommend going with a 16-SEER system over a 14-SEER system.

Of course, this is just a general recommendation. Your actual estimated energy savings will depend on factors such as:

  • How often your AC is maintained
  • The condition of your home’s ductwork
  • The insulation levels of your home
  • What temperatures you set your thermostat to
  • And much more

If you want a detailed, accurate recommendation for your home, you’ll need to consult with a trained AC professional.

Besides energy savings, are there other benefits from a high-SEER system?

Below are some other benefits that come from investing in a high-SEER (16+) system:

  • Increased comfort: Though it’s not always the case, high-SEER systems generally come with advanced equipment like a variable-speed blower or a two-stage compressor. These features help you fight humidity and reduce the hot and cold spots in your home.
  • Greener home: 16-SEER systems are more environmentally friendly than 14-SEER ACs because they converse more energy.
  • Tax credits and energy rebates: Getting a 16-SEER, Energy Star-approved AC can give you a federal tax credit.

Want a SEER recommendation specific to your home? Let a Texas pro help

Every home and budget is different, which is why it’s hard to give a general recommendation on which SEER you should get. If you want a trained pro to crunch the numbers with you and help you choose the right AC for your home, we can help.

Our comfort advisors give honest recommendations and upfront pricing for all AC installations.

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