13 SEER Vs 14 SEER: Which To Choose?

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All air conditioning units have a SEER rating, but the number is not the same across brands and models. So which one should you choose—13 SEER or 14 SEER? We have done research on this for you and found the answer. 

The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the air conditioning unit. So between 13 SEER and 14 SEER, the latter will be the better option. However, there are other factors that affect the efficiency of a unit.  

  • Room size
  • Air filter
  • Thermostat setting 
  • Annual maintenance
  • Insulation 

How will these factors help in keeping energy costs low? Read on further to get more details on what can help your unit be more energy efficient.

A collaged photo of an air conditioning mounted on concrete slab, 13 SEER Vs 14 SEER: Which To Choose?

What is SEER?

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is used to measure the efficiency of air conditioners when in use. This ratio shows how much electricity is used and the cost it will take to run the cooling unit over one season. 

The U.S. Department of Energy requires all air conditioning units to have SEER ratings. The SEER rating is written on an energy guide. This is a yellow sticker attached to the outer part of the air conditioning unit. 

The SEER signifies the maximum efficiency rating of a specific unit. Having a higher SEER means the unit uses less energy to cool a room. However, your unit can still be less efficient due to other factors. 

13 SEER vs 14 SEER

When scouting for an air conditioning unit, you will notice different SEER ratings. What do these numbers mean? As the number goes higher, the unit becomes more energy efficient.

Typically, a 14 SEER rating or higher is good. But an air conditioning unit with a 13 SEER rating is the minimum rating for some areas in the United States. Buying a unit with a higher SEER rating will cost more.

However, you will save money in the long run because it uses less energy. The savings on energy cost is 7%  between these two ratings. 

Air conditioners with a 13 SEER and 14 SEER rating have a single-stage compressor. This means the unit is running at a single and maximum speed to reach cooling comfort.

Units with this kind of compressor will not be as efficient compared to 2-stage compressors.

However, by 2023, the minimum SEER standard by the U.S. Department of Energy will be a 14 SEER rating. An air conditioner with this rating will be a better option to buy.

Other Factors Affecting Energy Efficiency

Air conditioning manufacturers come up with new models that are more energy efficient than the previous models. So even without considering the SEER rating, one will save on energy costs already.

However, other factors in your unit and outside environment can affect the efficiency of your unit.

1. Room Size

Interior of a modern white minimalist inspired living room with modern beddings and a white air conditioning unit

The correct air conditioning unit in terms of cooling capacity versus the room size is important. For one, it will help cool the area quicker. Also, machines do not have to work double time to cool an area.

The power of the motor to run an air conditioner is measured by horsepower. But the horsepower of different models will differ in their capacity to cool a space. 

British Thermal Units (BTU) are used to evaluate the cooling capacity of an air conditioner. This shows how much heat is removed from the air by your unit per hour of use.  

The BTU rating of the unit will give a better gauge of the suitable capacity to cool a room. Generally,  20 BTU is needed per square foot of space.

Air conditioning units range from 5,500BTU  to 14,000 BTU per hour. Thus, there will be a lot of air conditioning models to match your space. 

However, the room's location, the area's climate, and window size can also affect the room's temperature. You will need a higher cooling capacity for a room that has a wider window.

2. Air Filter

Mini split air conditioning air filter

The air conditioning unit's air filter cleans the air in the room. The air quality is better when pollen, dust, smoke, and grease are filtered. Also, it keeps dirt and dust from accumulating in the inner components of the unit. 

Frequency of use, pets, and the dust condition in your area all affect the air filter's condition. A dirt-covered air filter will block cool air.

This strains the motor of your air conditioner and requires more electricity. Efficiency is not affected when periodic cleaning or replacement is done.  

Ideally, cleaning or replacement of an air filter should be done every month or two. Make sure to get the right air filter size and compatibility with your unit.

Check out this 20x20x1 MERV 8 AC air filter on Amazon

3. Thermostat Setting 

The thermostat of an air conditioning unit controls the room temperature. Controlling the temperature will save on electricity.

Setting the temperature signals the unit to run until it reaches it. Once it is at the right temperature, it will turn off.

Manually controlling the temperature can be tedious. You can upgrade to a smart thermostat for convenience and energy savings. 

Programmable settings allow the air conditioner to automatically adjust based on cooling requirements, daily schedule, and weather. 

Smart thermostats can sync to tablets and smartphones, thus allowing users to remotely control the temperature and programmed schedule. 

Check out this Emerson Sensei Wifi smart thermostat on Amazon

4. Annual Maintenance

Routine check-ups and cleaning should be done at least once a year.  This is to ensure that the air conditioning unit runs efficiently. It will last longer without the need for part replacement.

Dirt collecting in the evaporator coil reduces airflow. Also, when dirt covers the coil it traps the heat. The unit will be blowing back warm air into the house.

The outside condenser coil is exposed to dirt and debris from trees and grass cutting. These will lessen the airflow around the condenser.

Cleaning these parts is important to make the cooling system more effective. It will lessen energy bills and prevent frequent breakdowns of the unit.

A professional air conditioner technician can do a thorough job as well as detect leaks and other issues. But for spot cleaning, there are cleaning brushes specifically for condensers.

Check out these brushes on Amazon

5. Insulation 

Stack of fiberglass insulation material, Mineral wool insulator for heat and cold protection

A room has to be properly insulated to keep the temperature stable. Close all the doors and windows to trap in the cool air. The air conditioning unit will need more electricity to adjust when warm air enters the room. 

Check on window and door gaps, too. Fix these gaps so cool air won't escape. Also, this will prevent heat from coming in, making the unit more efficient.

What is the difference between EER and  SEER?

Both ratings give information on energy performance. Compare air-conditioning units based on these ratings.

The EER, or energy efficiency rating, measures the cooling time based on one temperature. On the other hand, SEER measures energy efficiency for one season with different temperatures outside. 

The EER rating is the ratio of cooling output in BTUs per hour to the input of electricity in watts. Just like the SEER rating, as EER numbers go higher, the more efficient the air conditioner is. A good EER rating is 8.5 and higher.

Energy Star Label 

The energy star label is an energy symbol that is government-approved.

The label signifies that the product can help you save on energy costs without sacrificing comfort and performance. It should also be environmentally friendly with a reduced carbon footprint. 

Meeting these standards will earn a product corresponding stars. This label is best used when comparing air conditioning units of the same size. The more stars one model has, the higher its energy efficiency. 

Indicated on the energy guide are the energy star label, SEER rating, or EER rating. This means that the unit has met standards of energy efficiency. 

Is freon still in use?

A gray colored air conditioning unit refilling the freon

Refrigerant is a chemical compound that absorbs heat and produces cool air. Freon or R-22 is a common air refrigerant.

This hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerant has not been allowed for use in air conditioning units since 2020. R-22 is a harmful gas that affects the depletion of the ozone layer.  

Newer models of air conditioners are more environmentally friendly. These units use R410A, the new standard for home air conditioning units. Its cooling performance is the same as R22, but it is less harmful to the environment.

In Conclusion

A collaged photo of an air conditioning mounted on concrete slab

The SEER rating is an important factor for air conditioners as far as efficiency in energy use. When choosing an air conditioner, you should also consider the other factors we discussed that can affect a unit's efficiency.

We have written other articles on air conditioning. Check these out: 

 How To Insulate A Cold Wall From The Inside [Step-By-Step]

What Size Breaker For A Mini Split Air Conditioner?

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