SEER vs. SEER: How Much Will One AC Save You Over Another?

September 08, 2015

On the hunt for a new air conditioner and realize a SEER rating is a pretty big deal, eh?

Like most, you’re probably wondering how much one can save you over the other. For example, how much money can you save per year by buying a 14 SEER vs. 10 SEER or a 17 SEER vs. 13 SEER… and so on.

While how much you can save depends on many factors related to your home, there are a few online tools that calculate an accurate estimate and make shopping a heck of a lot easier.

Here are 3 tools that’ll give you a better sense of savings when choosing one SEER rating over another.  

1) AC Doctor Energy Calculator

If you already have an estimate from a contractor and want an easy cost comparison on a higher efficiency unit and lower conventional unit, this free calculator rocks. 

AC Doctor Energy Calculator Link

How to use:

  1. Enter your zip code and number of units you’re looking to replace.
  2. Enter total cost of system with installation for both.
  3. Select SEER ratings, tonnage and whether each system includes a programmable thermostat. Learn more: What the “Ton” Means for an Air Conditioner (And Why it Matters).
  4. Click Calculate.
Pic2 AcdocPic3 Acdoc

The results: Show the effect of high-efficiency cooling and heating on your finances AND your environmental footprint.

2) HVAC OpCost Problem Solver

This tool is great because, unlike the first one, you don’t need to already have an estimate from a contractor. It will let you compare the operating expenses of 2 air conditioners with different SEERs.

HVAC OpCost Problem Solver Link

How to use:

  1. Click your location on the map or select your city from a dropdown list. This will automatically input electric rate data and cooling hours per year for your city and state. (Though you can correct it if it’s inaccurate.)
  2. Enter your home’s square footage. (This will estimate the size of your AC.)
  3. Under ‘Cooling - Standard’ put in the lower SEER with the higher in the ‘Cooling - High Efficiency’ section. Make sure to also select whether the systems are variable speed.
  4. If you’re thinking of getting a new heating system, you can also fill in that information, otherwise just leave it.
  5. Click calculate.
Pic5 Opcost

The results: Give you a yearly operating cost for the 2 air conditioners with different SEERs. If you didn’t change the heating information, make sure you’re only looking at the cooling side.

3) Energy Star Energy Usage and Payback Calculator

Want something a little more accurate? This tool is developed by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and lets you input much more customized information to generate a detailed breakdown of possible savings.

Energy Star Energy Usage and Payback Calculator

How to use:

  1. Download and open Excel file.
  2. Change default values in grey boxes to customize results (if you select your city, these values will automatically update).
  3. Answer the other questions throughout document. 

The results: Lets you see side-by-side comparisons of conventional vs. Energy Star-rated air conditioners and a system’s lifecycle savings.

Get an install estimate

Keep in mind, the purpose of these tools is to give you a general idea on savings and will only be as accurate as the information you put into them.

The next step is to get an estimate so you can see if they’ll save you enough to pay for themselves. Contact Santa Fe Air Conditioning and Heating for a free estimate on a new AC.

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