Is an Energy-Efficient Air Conditioner Worth It?

What you need to know about energy efficiency when buying a new air conditioner.

Published March 10, 2022

When it’s time to replace an old air conditioner, one of the factors that you may want to consider in your purchase decision is the unit’s energy efficiency. The more efficient an air conditioner is, the more you can save on energy costs. One way to gauge an A/C’s efficiency is by checking its SEER rating.

What is SEER?

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which measures an air conditioner’s cooling performance, specifically the appliance’s cooling output divided by its energy consumption. The higher the SEER, the more energy-efficient the air conditioner. You can usually find the SEER rating on the EnergyGuide label of the unit.

What’s a good SEER rating for an air conditioner?

There are a wide range of air conditioners available with varying SEER ratings. Currently, new air conditioners must have at least a 13 SEER if you live in the northern parts of the United States and a 14 SEER if you’re in the south. However, the current minimums are set to change in 2023, increasing to 14 SEER in the north and 15 SEER in the south.

Even so, the most energy-efficient air conditioners have a much higher SEER rating than the minimums above. For example, the central air conditioners that received recognition as an ENERGY STAR® Most Efficient had SEER ratings ranging from 18 to 28.

A higher SEER equals more energy savings

While buying the most efficient air conditioner can be a nice idea, it may not always be a suitable financial choice for your household. Generally, the higher the SEER number, the more expensive the unit can be upfront. As a result, you might want to consider buying the most efficient air conditioner that fits your needs and budget.

However, you may also want to budget how much running the air conditioner can cost. This can be especially important given the average lifespan of an A/C is about 15 to 20 years, and the potential yearly savings on your cooling costs between different SEER levels can be significant. For instance, compared to a 13 SEER air conditioner (the lowest SEER A/C you can get), estimates suggest that you could save as much as:

  • 41% on energy costs with a 22 SEER A/C;
  • 35% with a 20 SEER;
  • 28% with an 18 SEER. 

With a higher SEER A/C unit, you can save more energy, and help reduce costs in the long run. Thus, before deciding on which A/C unit to purchase, you may want to consider all of these factors. 

Differences between a high-efficiency air conditioner and a standard unit

Just like any other appliance, before buying your new air conditioner, you may also want to examine the pros and cons of the different A/C units.

Pros and cons of a high-efficiency air conditioner


  • A high-efficiency A/C can help lower your cooling costs since they tend to use less electricity, which can help reduce your energy bills.
  • These air conditioners can also be better for the environment as they require less electricity usage, which can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • Energy-efficient air conditioners can also help provide consistent room temperatures. These units usually have multiple settings and fan speeds to ensure consistent temperatures inside the home, even when temperatures outside fluctuate. They can also have programmable thermostats.


  • High-efficiency A/C units can cost more to buy. The added features that help lower energy consumption may result in added costs. However, there are often federal or state incentives available that can help you cut some of the upfront price.
Pros and cons of a standard air conditioner


  • A new standard air conditioner is likely still more efficient than your existing old one.  Especially with a new A/C that meets today’s SEER standards, you can help reduce your energy use compared to when you used your old unit.
  • A standard low SEER air conditioner can also cost less to buy.


  • A standard A/C may offer fewer features and options. Part of the reason for the lower price can be that there are fewer settings, features, and options. Often, the A/C can be just a basic unit with an off/on switch and a temperature setting.

Get a No-Obligation Quote Today on a New Air Conditioner

Whether you buy a high-efficiency air conditioner or standard A/C unit, Local Home Pro can help with your upcoming air conditioner installation. Our HVAC experts can help you find the right unit for your home and budget. Get your no-obligation, free quote today before the summer’s heat and humidity takes hold.

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