heating and AC, plumbing & electric
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heating and AC, plumbing & electric 479.900.0784
May 13, 2022

Difference Between 16 SEER and 18 SEER HVAC systems- Which System is Right for Me?

Buying a new HVAC system for your home can get a little confusing. It is important to educate yourself as a homeowner  they’re getting a system that meets their needs and are confident in their purchase. 

SEER is an acronym you’ll see while you’re shopping for a new HVAC system. This is a common question that many homeowners ask when looking to replace their HVAC system. Two of the most common are 16 SEER and 18 SEER HVAC systems. Let’s discuss the difference, so you can make sure you are finding the right fit and maximum efficiency and comfort for your home. 

What is SEER? 

SEER stands for Seasonal Efficiency Ration. In a nutshell, the higher the SEER rating, the more efficient your system runs. The rating scale is based on how good your unit cools compared to how much energy it uses. Bottom line, the SEER ratio of an HVAC unit is calculated by dividing the cooling output by the energy it uses to cool in watt hours. 

How much money will I save on my electric bill? 

When it comes to bills, savings makes sense! Having a higher SEER rating will save you money on energy efficiency. An 18 SEER is around 12.5% more efficient than a 16 SEER. That means for every $100 you spend to cool your home with a 18 SEER, you’ll save about $12.50 more than the 16 SEER. A good rule of thumb, the higher the SEER the more you’ll save on your electric bill. 

Maximize Home Comfort

The bigger your home, the higher the SEER rating you’ll want on your HVAC system. The minimum requirement set by The U.S. Department of Energy begins at 13 SEER, but there are systems that go much higher to maximize cooling and comfort. 

Where you Live Matters 

SEER requirements from the U.S. Department of Energy are based on geographical regions. Northern states, including Missouri, trend colder, therefore the DOE recommends a 13 or higher. Southern states, including Arkansas and Oklahoma, trend warmer, so the DOE requires at least a 14 SEER rating for new HVAC systems. 

2023 seasonal energy efficiency ratio seer standards for the united states



What to Consider in a SEER Rating

  • Quality of home insulation
  • Age of current unit
  • Quality of ductwork
  • Window and door insulation quality
  • Size of HVAC unit compared to home size
  • Frequency of routine maintenance

Choosing Between 16 SEER and 18 SEER System

As you’re weighing your SEER rating options, you need to consider a few criteria, including your personal comfort and budget:

How big is your home? 

The size of your home affects the HVAC size you’ll need to keep it cool. If you live in a larger home, it’s recommended you side with a higher SEER rating in order to keep your family comfortable. 

Settling for a system that is too small for your home will result in uneven heating and cooling. 

What are your cooling needs?

Air conditioners & heat pumps are available in single-stage, two-stage and variable stage systems. “Stages” refer to the fan speed. A single-stage model runs off the same speed every time it kicks on and off. 

If you are looking to increase your comfort in your home, a two-speed system may help! A two-stage model will run at two speeds, depending on your cooling needs. These systems run more efficient and include added benefits like:

  • Longer and gentler cooling
  • Better temperature balance
  • Improved humidity control
  • Lower electric bills

Variable-stage HVAC systems run the most efficiently, because their motors are capable of running at any a wide-range of speeds depending on how cool or hot you want your air. 

  • Most efficient type of HVAC and will result in the lowest electric bills
  • Even cooling throughout your home or business
  • Improved humidity control
  • Lower energy costs

Use rebates to save money

Rebates are another way to save on an HVAC system. There are often both tax rebates and manufacturing rebates available

Bottom Line: Is the higher SEER rating worth it? 

If you have a really old air conditioning system, maybe rated around 8 or 9 SEER, a new, 16 SEER system will give you a significant boost in savings, efficiency, and comfort. 

In general, if you are looking for a more efficient unit, and looking to save on your utility bills, then go with the highest SEER rated unit that you can.


Sometimes these decisions seem like splitting hairs. We can make sure you’re comparing apples to apples so you can feel confident you’re making the best decision for your budget and needs! As the most-trusted home service provider in Arkansas & Missouri, Paschal Air, Plumbing & Electric can help you figure out the right SEER rating for your situation. If you’re looking to replace your air conditioner or want more information, contact the professionals at Paschal at 479-900-0784 or schedule an appointment online at www.gopaschal.com.