heating and AC, plumbing & electric
heating and AC, plumbing & electric

We are taking the following precautions due to the COVID-19 virus. All of our technicians have masks, glasses, latex gloves and shoe booties if they have to enter your home. Our technicians also have hand sanitizer and disinfectants that they use after every call.

If we are there to do maintenance and we don’t have to come inside your home to get to the equipment, we are asking homeowners to adjust the thermostat for us so we can do the system maintenance without entering the home. We will not be shaking hands and will keep our distance from customers.

heating and AC, plumbing & electric 479.751.0195
July 15, 2019

Deciding Between 14 SEER and 16 SEER

We’re spending more time in our homes than ever before. (Thanks, COVID-19.) If you’ve been using your AC unit as much as we have, you might be thinking about updating your system—with energy efficiency, cost savings, and comfort at the top of your wish list. 

But unless you’re an HVAC pro, it can be tricky to know where to even start your search, let alone what unit to  invest in. With so many acronyms, ratings, and numbers plastered to the side of every unit, how’s the average homeowner supposed to make sense of it? 

(Not that you’re average. You’re actually amazing.)

Today, we’re going to focus on one of those mysterious acronyms: SEER

What is a SEER rating?

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, and it’s sort of like the gas mileage of your HVAC unit. In layman’s terms, SEER is calculated by dividing the total energy required to run the unit (how much electricity you’ll use) by the unit’s total cooling capacity (how cool it’ll make you). 

In other words, the SEER rating indicates the maximum efficiency you can achieve with your HVAC system. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient your system should be. The current minimum standard is 13 SEER, but you’ll see systems anywhere from 13 SEER to 21 SEER. Most people are trying to decide between a 14 SEER and 16 SEER. So how different are these ratings?

Let’s think in terms of dollars and cents. A 16 SEER unit is about 13% more efficient than a 14 SEER. For every $100 you spend to cool your home with a 14 SEER, you could save $13 on your monthly bill by upgrading to the 16 SEER unit. 

But just like gas mileage, your ability to meet this maximum efficiency and savings depends on a lot of other factors. 

How to Choose Between 14 SEER and 16 SEER

As you’re weighing your SEER rating options, ask yourself these questions:

Question 1: How big is my home?

The size of your home affects the HVAC size you’ll need to cool your family comfortably. Smaller units use less energy and increase your savings. But if you live in a larger home, you’ll need a larger unit. The size of your home may answer your SEER question for you when comparing size, installation cost, and ultimate savings. 

Question 2: What are my cooling needs?

14 SEER units are usually only available in single-stage models. That means they turn off and on during more mild weather, which results in:

  • Uneven heating and cooling, like hot and cold spots
  • Increased humidity, which often means you feel hotter regardless of the number on the thermostat

In other words, 14 SEER units are often a compromise between cheaper price and comfort in the sweltering heat. 

16 SEER units are available in both single-stage and two-stage. The single-stage models will run the same as the 14 SEER above, just with a little more efficiency. Depending on your needs, though, the two-stage 16 SEER might be a game-changer. These units have two capacities which creates:

  • Longer and gentler cooling
  • Better temperature balance
  • Improved humidity control

Question 3: How much can I spend?

The higher the SEER rating, the higher the price tag. If all your other factors are equal, the savings difference between a 14 SEER and 16 SEER is marginal. This means it will probably take a long time to make up the initial cost of the 16 SEER unit with your energy savings every month. 

Comparing your purchase and installation price to your estimated savings is probably going to give you the answer you’re looking for. As Northwest Arkansas, Fort Smith River Valley & Southwest Missouri’s HVAC pros, we can help you determine your estimated savings.

The Bottom Line

If you have a really old air conditioning system, maybe rated around 8 or 9 SEER, a new, 14 SEER system will give you a significant boost in savings, efficiency, and comfort. 

But, in general, if everything else is equal—price, size, cooling needs—you’re better off with a higher SEER rating. You’ll also likely be more satisfied with the higher SEER because you get that two-stage capability. Better humidity control and temperature balance, plus more efficiency? Bingo!


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 HVAC shop in Northwest Arkansas, Fort Smith River Valley & Southwest Missouri, we can help you figure out the right SEER rating for your situation. Give us a call today!