Efficiency Ratings – What Do They Mean?

Technical lingo serves an important purpose, but we’ll admit, it can be difficult to decipher. 

If you are a homeowner, you know that purchasing a new air conditioning system is big decision. There are a lot of options available, and each seem to offer differing levels of efficiency. 

Because AC equipment uses a lot of electricity during the hot summer months, it is in your best interest to purchase a unit that is as energy efficient as possible. Energy.gov offers some really valuable insight into the world of air conditioners—from the types of air conditioners to installation tips. They—and Schneider Heating & Air Conditioning agrees—suggest you look for ENERGY STAR® and Energy Guide labels.


SEER, which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficient Ratio, is a rating that measures the energy use of air conditioning equipment based on actual seasonal temperatures. To get technical, the SEER is the ratio of cooling power as expressed in British Thermal Units (BTU), divided by the amount of electricity used in kilowatt hours. 

The U.S. Department of Energy mandates that air conditioning units installed in the northern part of the country have a SEER rating of at least 13. AC units that are used in the warmer, southern states must have a minimum rating of 14. The good news is that today, most air conditioning systems far exceed these minimums—with SEER ratings often between 20-28.

EER, which stands for Energy Efficiency Rating, is similar to SEER but is calculated under controlled conditions, rather than seasonal temperature averages. Higher EER ratings are always better than lower ones. Industry experts advise that homeowners looking to purchase a new central AC system should look at units that have an EER rating of between 11.6 and 16.2.

Think about it like this, the relationship between SEER and EER can be likened to a car that gets better mileage on the highway (SEER), than it does in urban areas (toughest conditions). Whether you are more concerned about SEER vs. EER, we stand by the fact that purchasing the most efficient AC system will save you money in the long run.

Schneider Heating & Air Conditioning is the leader in heating, cooling, ventilation, and air quality products and services in the La Crosse area. We have been serving the Coulee Region for more than 80 years. Our technicians are highly and continually trained utilizing the most sophisticated HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) technologies and equipment. All of our service technicians are NATE (North American Technician Excellence) certified—the largest non-profit certification organization that is governed, owned, operated, developed, and supported by the HVAC industry. At Schneider Heating & Cooling, we pride ourselves on amazing customer service. Contact us today!