SEER Rating: How much will I save with a higher SEER Rating?


Most people know that higher SEER ratings for an air conditioner will save them money on their electric bills. But how much can you really expect to save with a higher SEER Rating? Let’s put some actual numbers behind this thought. So, stay tuned to find out how much savings you could see!

What is a SEER rating, and how does it work?

There are plenty of articles about what SEER ratings are for air conditioners and heat pumps, so I’m not going to dive into that topic. But, briefly, says, “The SEER measures air conditioning cooling efficiency, which is calculated by the cooling output for a typical cooling season divided by the total electric energy input during the same time frame. A SEER rating is a maximum efficiency rating, like the miles per gallon for your car.”

What are the current SEER ratings seen today?

14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20. Some of the heat pump systems that have come out since 2020 offer up to 25 SEER as well.

As of 2022, most states in America were mandated to install systems with a SEER rating of 14. Some northern states are still able to squeak by with 13 SEER systems because the summers aren’t as long and intense as they are in southern states.

How much money can I save by upgrading to a higher SEER rating air conditioner or heat pump system in my home?

The average cost of electricity in the summer here in Sacramento, CA, is around $0.247 per kWh. So, between 14 SEER and 20 SEER, you’ll save about 6-7% when you go from 14 to 15 to 16 all they way to 20 SEER. Take a look at these charts I made for you, considering a 3-ton system (36,000 btu’s) and you have a house around 1500 sq ft that is fairly well insulated in the attic and exterior walls:

SEER Rating How much will I save with a higher SEER Rating

I created a calculator with some formulas that customers can use to play around with these numbers too. You can find it here on and I’ll leave a link to it in the description area of this video. Just give me a few weeks to get it posted on my website, since I just created it in July 2022.

Compared to your older 10 SEER system

Compared to your older 10 SEER system

A lot of systems that have been running since let’s say, 1995 to 2005 are probably running around 10 SEER. They may have started around 12 SEER, but systems lose efficiency through wear and tear over the years. So, most people agree their system is running around 10 SEER now as they are looking to buy a new system. Since 2010, the lowest SEER system we can install is 14 SEER. In 2023, it’s going up to 15 and 16 SEER-2, so we’ll update this blog when we get there. And yes, I meant to say SEER-2. Just the industry leaders and EPA mandating we get rid of the 14 SEER systems in order to make the 15 and 16 SEER systems the lowest SEER systems that we can install for customers.

Compared to your older 10 SEER system

So, with 14 SEER being the lowest, customers will also be offered options for higher-rated systems, like 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20 – and yes, some systems are even higher. Let’s look at how much you might save by upgrading from your 10 SEER system to a modern 14, 16, 18, or 20 SEER system:

Compared to your older 10 SEER system (2)

So, you can see how upgrading your older 10 SEER system to pretty much anything today will save you money. Even $250 in savings each summer just by switching from an older system to a standard single-stage 14 SEER system sounds great! Upgrading to the 18 and 20 systems can save you double that each summer.  

Comparing the modern systems to each other

Now let’s compare 14 to 16, 16 to 18, and 18 to 20 SEER systems. Once again, these are numbers based on fairly well-insulated homes where the system is installed correctly, and the size of the system is right.

Comparing the modern systems to each other
Comparing the modern systems to each other

If you were given some options from your HVAC salesman – something like a 14 SEER, 16 SEER, an 18 SEER, and a 20 SEER system you might be thinking, “Well, what kind of savings would I get if I buy a 16 SEER over a 14 SEER system if the 16 SEER costs $1500.00 more?”

From the chart, you’d save about $79 a summer with a 16 over a 14 (At 24¢ per kWh)—a 13% savings. Over ten years, that’s $793, and assuming your system lasts a full 20 years, which is a good long life, you’d be looking at about $1587 in savings.

You can mess around with the SEER Comparison Calculator to get a good idea of what you’ll save here in California based of the average rate of 24¢ per kWh at summer rates.

What are the testing requirements to calculate SEER?

Real quick, the industry’s standard for testing includes a high-speed test at 95°F outdoor temp and another at 82°F. Two-stage and variable speed systems add a low-speed test at 82°F. Each of these tests is done for 30 minutes and is performed three times to get an average. I always thought they just calculated these numbers at high-speed, including the variable speed units that typically run at their lower speeds for longer periods of time.

There are way more considerations when calculating these SEER ratings. Some of the terms and testing they use are:

  • Voltage tolerance
  • Low temperature
  • Insulation efficiency
  • Condensate disposal
  • Maximum operation (115°F)
  • Extra high maximum operation (125°F)
  • Wet bulb
  • Dry bulb
  • Piping length
  • A proper refrigerant charge
  • Proper installation

Even just looking at some of the equations these guys use to determine the SEER ratings is crazy. Look at these!

the SEER ratings

And that’s just one calculation and the considerations for determining it. As I scroll down the page on the AHRI document, I have to use the roller to scroll 5 or 6 more times down the page to get to the end of this section!

In conclusion… how much will I save with a higher SEER Rating?

I thought this was a pretty interesting topic. So often, when people ask Google what SEER rating is, they’re just told – it’s a measurement of how much cooling effect they can get for the electricity used to cool the house. Like miles per gallon on a car. And it’s correct. But today, I wanted to put some numbers behind how much you can actually save when choosing between today’s modern air conditioners.

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The Unrivaled Power of YouTube

Power of YouTube

I remember the first video I ever made for my YouTube channel. It was a complete disaster. The audio was terrible, the video was a grainy desktop computer camera, and I had only the slightest bit of knowledge of what I was doing. But I posted it anyway, and to my surprise, a few people actually watched it! Encouraged by this, I kept making videos and got a little better with each one. I learned how to use editing software to improve the quality of my videos, and I became more comfortable in front of the camera. As my skills improved, so did my popularity; today, my channel has thousands of subscribers and I have learned the power of YouTube.

With the Power of YouTube, I have:

  • Tapped into the billions of people watching monthly.
  • Gotten found on Google more organically.
  • Created content that will never disappear from the internet.
  • Earned trust from people without having gone into their homes yet.
  • BONUS: Make monthly pocket change from Google.

I can honestly say that making these videos has been the single most cost-effective thing I have done for our marketing and branding presence. Not only are a ton of people in our immediate service area watching and learning from our videos, but they are also learning who we are and our business ethics. We have developed a lot of trust from people all over the country too. Ask my admin team, and they’ll tell you the funniest part of their day is when people call from the other side of the country, and even Canada, asking if we service their area. People are watching overseas too. It’s amazing. Just 6 to 8 hours per video has made us an industry name. In my service area, I have optimized them to stand out when people search for what may seem like mundane things like, Why is my air conditioner so loud?” I am also creating a buzz amongst technicians in my area looking for a better workplace. I can stand at the food truck at Home Depot in the mornings, and a tech will come up to me and express how much our videos have helped him in the field. That’s powerful!

I have found that the more transparent we are while making my videos, the better response we get from them. Showing someone how to replace a compressor isn’t going to lose you business. It is actually going to demonstrate your expertise and what is involved in the process. I remember one comment from that compressor video: “Nope! When I saw the torches come out, I knew I was in over my head.”

I just continued making a video once a week or two and uploaded them to the second most popular search in the world, YouTube. I have oodles of topics to talk about. Every little facet of the HVAC world, from how a pressure switch works to starting a business from the ground up, may seem trivial to you, but to others trying to learn something, it isn’t.

Early adopters of content creation on the niche of HVAC were “grayfurnaceman,” “Dr. Zarklov,” “Zack Psioda,” “Lex Vance,” and “NorCal Refrigeration & H.V.A.C..” These guys were simply sticking a camera in front of their faces and chatting about what they were doing that day. Guys would hit the record button and say, “Hey guys, how are you doing? Today I wanted to bring you along as I troubleshoot a gas furnace.” And then, they would take their camera along, sit it down, and point it at the furnace with them in front of it. Now, these types of videos are still being produced by HVAC business owners and service techs all over the country.

What started out as a few guys putzing around making videos showcasing their personal lives and the life of an HVAC technician out in the field ended up being thousands upon thousands of views a month. Content creation is about repetition. Even if one video flops and you realize no one cares about that topic, you keep pressing on. More videos mean more views. I found myself making a video about something I thought was vague, The Facts About Condensate Drain Lines.” Three years later, that video has over 72 thousand views! Are they all from my service area? Not likely. In fact, I can see from my YouTube analytics that not only people from Sacramento have watched it, but Houston, Los Angeles, Dallas, Melbourne, Australia, and Long Beach are the most popular cities the video has been watched in.

I had one lady from Phoenix, Arizona, call us in Sacramento and ask if she could fly me down there and put me in a hotel for the night, would I fix her system? In her search for a good company, she only trusted Fox Family from watching our videos. That was surprising, but I knew a company in her area and referred her to them. The problem got fixed, and at the same time, I bolstered my HVAC network by referring that company, which I know now, will refer me likewise.

HVAC is a niche that we are already passionate about. Why not demonstrate that passion and start building trust and familiarity for your company too? YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, and it is easy to see why. YouTube’s search algorithm is very effective, allowing users to find the exact content they are looking for. It’s also a great platform for businesses and creators. By uploading engaging content, businesses can reach a large audience of potential customers. There is no doubt that the unrivaled power of YouTube has helped grow my business.

The “Lag of Season” – Why it Stays Hotter Longer into the Summer

"Lag of Season" – Why it Stays Hotter Longer into the Summer
As anyone who has ever stepped outside on a hot summer day knows, the air can take some time to heat up. The same is true for the atmosphere as a whole. Though the summer solstice marks the longest day of the year, it is not necessarily the hottest. That’s because it takes time for the atmosphere to absorb the Sun’s energy and convert it into heat. Similarly, midday is not necessarily the hottest time of day. That’s because it takes some time for the Sun’s rays to travel through the atmosphere and reach the ground. The same principle applies to the summer solstice: it can take some time for the atmosphere to heat up, even though the Sun is at its highest point in the sky.  Today we are going to talk about why it stays hotter longer into the summer or the “Lag of Season”.

From an Expert

It always sticks in my mind as an HVAC technician, but I’m reminded of it when KCRA weatherman Mark Finan talks about it every Summer. In an article on the channel’s weather blog, he said, “June is the month with the highest sun angle and the longest hours of daylight. By the time we get to the solstice (June 20 this year), we have 14 hours and 51 minutes of daylight. By August, we are seeing shorter days and a lower sun angle. By mid-August, we have lost about an hour and a half of daylight. Despite the shorter days, August is a hotter month than June. The average high on June 1 is 85. On August 1, it is 94. June averages four days in the 100s, while August has 6. So why? It’s called the lag of seasons…As we transition from Spring to Summer, the Sun gradually warms the surface of the Earth. The gradual warming lags behind the length of the day. So the hottest part of the year is roughly a month after the solstice. The opposite is true in the winter when you’ll find the coldest part of the season is often in January, a month or so after the Winter solstice.”

Lag of Season Explained

What I gather from this is that even though the Sun is at the same angle in the sky in June as it is in August, or May as it is in September, the Earth’s surface is cooler in the earlier summer months tater in the Summer. The winter cools the Earth’s surface, so less radiant heat is absorbed and retained in the atmosphere. We notice this same phenomenon during the day as noon is not the hottest part of the day; it always falls around 4 pm to 5 pm. That’s the atmosphere heating up and trying to put on the brakes as night comes. It just takes a little longer to reject the day’s heat, which is why it can still be 90 degrees outside at bedtime. This was a topic I’ve wanted to mention this topic in the Summer before, but I found it hard to explain on paper. Seasonal Lag, or as Mark Finan calls it, “Lag of Seasons,” makes it hotter in the later months of Summer than it is in the earlier months. It’s directly linked to the surface temperature of the Earth and its ability to retain heat as the warmer days upon the surface earth as well as its rivers, lakes, and strea