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What SEER Rating Should I Buy for My San Marcos Home?

July 23, 2018

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When San Marcos homeowners ask us what SEER they should get, this is what we tell them: It depends.

First off, we always suggest at least a 14-SEER unit—all new ACs in San Marcos need to be at least 14 SEER per federal requirements. But beyond this answer, we always tell homeowners that the SEER they “should” buy just depends.

You see, the SEER you need for your new AC depends on many factors including:

  • The condition of your ductwork
  • The insulation levels in your home
  • The size of your new air conditioner
  • And much more

Since SEER depends on many factors specific to your home, an AC professional needs to help you choose the right SEER for your new AC.

We’ll go into more detail on why it’s important to have a professional provide a SEER recommendation.

But first, let’s go into a quick refresher on SEER...

Want to speak with a pro about SEER for your home?

If you want more information about installing a new AC, visit our AC installation page.

What’s SEER?

First off, a quick refresher: SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) measures how energy-efficient an air conditioner is. The higher the SEER, the less energy the AC will use to cool your home.

SEER ratings range from 14 to 24+.

When we talk about “high-SEER” air conditioners, we’re usually referring to any unit with a SEER rating of 16 or higher.

Now let’s look at how SEER affects the cost of an air conditioner...

How SEER affects pricing

The higher the SEER, the more expensive the upfront price of the AC. BUT it’s important to remember that higher SEER also lowers your monthly energy bills.


Well, most high-SEER (16+) ACs come with advanced comfort features such as either:

  • Two-stage technology, which allows the AC to run at 2 speeds: HIGH and LOW
  • Variable-speed technology, which allows the AC to ramp up or down in speed so that it can precisely match the amount of cooling that’s needed at any given time

Note: Standard ACs (lower than 14 SEER) can only run on one speed: HIGH.

So basically, high-SEER ACs cost more due to their more advanced, complex technology. But their advanced technology allows the unit to use less energy as it runs throughout the day.

Two-stage and variable-speed technology also provide comfort benefits such as:

  1. Reduced indoor humidity levels (which is important during humid summers here in San Marcos)
  2. More even cooling throughout the home because the unit can run longer at lower speeds

So back to the original question: What SEER should you choose? A high SEER (anywhere from 16 to 24) that costs more upfront but provides higher comfort and lower energy bills? Or a standard 14-SEER unit with a lower upfront price?

Well, of course it depends on your budget but you really shouldn’t make any final decisions before having a professional inspect your home. Let’s look at why...

Why a professional needs to help you choose the SEER for your new AC

When you a hire a professional to provide a SEER recommendation for your new AC, they can show you the savings you’ll get with a higher SEER AC over the lifetime of the unit. That way, you can determine whether the higher installation cost will be financially worth it in the long run.

And remember, you need a professional to help you choose a SEER for your new AC because the SEER you need depends on other factors like:

  • The size of your new AC
  • The insulation levels of your home
  • The condition of your home’s ductwork
  • Whether your system is “matched” or not—meaning both the indoor and outdoor units have the same technology and SEER. This is important to know if you’re replacing only one part of your AC (your outdoor OR indoor unit)

If you don’t take into account each of these factors, then you can’t accurately predict the energy savings you’ll get with a particular SEER.

For example, let’s say you choose a 16-SEER AC, but you don’t consider that you also have leaky ductwork. Because leaky ductwork makes your AC system work harder to cool your home, you won’t see optimal energy savings from a 16-SEER AC—your savings will be much lower.

Need help choosing a new AC for your San Marcos home?

We offer FREE estimates on the cost to install a new air conditioner, and we can help you choose which SEER is best for your home.

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