13 SEER vs 14 SEER – Differences Explained By an AC Tech

Share This Guide

An air conditioner’s energy efficiency can be measured by SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.) The higher the SEER the more efficient the air conditioner is.

A 14-SEER air conditioner is 7.2 % more efficient than a 13-SEER air conditioner although both air conditioners typically use single-stage air compressors. In addition to that, there isn’t much difference in terms of noise levels between the two air conditioners because their compressors run at a single high speed whose noise level is considered a bit higher than any 2-stage compressor air conditioner.

So, how much more energy costs should you expect to save if you choose to go for a 14-SEER air conditioner over a 13-SEER?  Generally, to find out how much more efficiency you will get from a higher SEER air conditioner, divide the lower seer by the higher seer

For example, if you go for 14-seer over 13-seer, then, 100-(13/14) *100=7.2 (rounded off to one decimal place.) so, a 14-seer will be 7.2 percent more efficient.

Comparison table between 13 SEER and 14 SEER air conditioners

FEATURES13 SEER14 SEER
COMPRESSOR TYPESINGLE-STAGE COMPRESSORSINGLE-STAGE COMPRESSOR
AVAILABILITY/ MINIMUM REQUIREMENTWILL BE PHASED OUT BY 2023 IN THE USWILL BE THE MINIMUM STANDARD
EFFICIENCYMORE EFFICIENT THAN ANY SEER RATING BELOW 13 BUT NOT AS EFFICIENT AS 14 SEER7.2 PERCENT MORE ENERGY EFFICIENT THAN SEER 13
NUMBER OF COOLING FANSMOSTLY HAS A SINGLE COOLING FANHAS A SINGLE COOLING FAN
PRICECHEAPER THAN SEER 14COSTS MORE THAN 13 SEER ACS
INSTALLATION COSTCOSTS SAME AS 14 SEERCOSTS SAME AS SEER 13
EFFECT ON ENVIRONMENTPRODUCES MORE GREENHOUSE GASSESCLEANER THAN 13 SEER by 7.2%

1.  Compressor Type

What does it mean for an air conditioner to have a single-stage compressor?

Both the 13 SEER and 14 SEER have single-stage compressors. That means that they run at single speeds unlike other air conditioners with 2-stage compressors (usually 16 or high SEER.)

Because of that, they run at the top speed 100% of the time they are running, and that is why they are not so efficient compared to higher seer ACs. But don’t worry, a 13 or 14 seer air conditioner should be able to cool your home properly and with the right sizing.

2.  14 SEER is More Efficient Than 13 SEER

A 14 seer Is definitely better than 13 seer when it comes to efficiency. When you choose a 14 seer, it should save you on energy bills year on year.  So how much should you expect to save on energy costs?

It’s often best to do a few math calculations to know exactly how much it will cost you to run an air conditioner per year. From that, we can then compare the costs of running each of the two air conditioners per year and then find the difference. That should give a clear figure of how much we should expect to save. All other factors being equal and as I mentioned earlier, a 14 seer over a 13 seer is 7.2% more energy efficient.

3.  Minimum Requirement/ Availability

According to the United States Department of energy, 13 seer air conditioners will be phased out by 2023.  That is, the minimum standard will be 14 SEER in the north and 15 SEER in any other region of the country.

And while it will not be immediately mandatory to replace your 13 SEER with a seer 14 SEER or higher by 2023, getting 14 SEER should probably be worth considering.

4.  Price And Cost of installation

A 13 SEER can be about a few hundred dollars less expensive than a 14 SEER. If you are on a budget, you may consider getting the 13 SEER instead. Even though there is a slight difference in the price, the performance of each of the two ACs is nearly the same.

Also, the annual energy saving costs should be just about 7% which is not so much in the short term.

5.  Effect on the environment

One negative effect of all air conditioners on the environment is the emission of greenhouse gasses. Air conditioners do emit greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere that have a negative effect on the ozone layer.

When the 10 seer air conditioners were replaced by the 13 seer air conditioners, about 100, 000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions (yearly) into the atmosphere were cut. When 14 SEER were introduced, they produced even lesser gasses into the atmosphere. The bottom line is, that 14 seer is slightly cleaner than 13 seer.

Is 14-SEER worth the extra money?

Is  14-SEER worth the extra money?

Between a 13 SEER and a 14 SEER AC, there isn’t really a big difference in terms of comfort. Both types don’t really humidify your home better than 2 stage compressor ACs. Meaning, that if you are looking for more comfort alone, a 14 SEER air conditioner is not really worth the extra money.

But is it efficient if you are going for efficiency? It’s still not worth the extra money. Take, for example, you are using a 13 SEER air conditioner and costing you $600 yearly to run, a 14 Should cost you 7% less, that’s just about $42 less. So yes, you are paying less annually on energy but the price difference up front needs to be considered (at least until 13 is phased out).

What are the minimum SEER standards in the USA?

What are the minimum SEER standards in the USA?

The minimum SEER standards for the south and southwest are currently 14 but are expected to go up to 15 in 2023. While the minimum SEER standards for the north stand at 13 and are expected to go up to 14 next in 2023.

How to improve your air conditioner’s efficiency

It must be noted that when manufacturers advertise the SEER ratings, that could actually be for only one size with a particular air handler and coil. Usually, other factors have to be taken into account that many advertisers don’t tell the consumers about such as the installation and the sizing.

If the air conditioner is undersized or oversized, it will be less efficient. In addition, installation guidelines have to be properly followed such as the allowance from the wall to allow free flow of air, otherwise, the air conditioner’s efficiency would be lowered.

With that in mind, the rated SEER is under certain conditions that are generally not achievable under normal working conditions. However, a good installation and proper sizing could get you close to the rated seer for a particular AC.

Below are a few things to consider in making your air conditioner even more energy efficient.

  • Seal off leaks in the ductwork
  • Try double insulating your ceiling (if you haven’t done so)
  • Install Attic Exhaust Fan
  • Use a Radiant Barrier for the Roof

How do I check the SEER rating for my central air conditioner?

If you are not sure about the seer rating for your current air conditioner, you can check this on the outdoor unit and look out for the yellow large sticker. If you can’t clearly see the information on the sticker for any reason, you can go to the indoor air handler unit which equally has a label on it. 

But if SEER information isn’t available either, get the model number and look up the details about your air conditioner on your manufacturer’s website.

Summing Up

I hope I explained the differences between SEER 13 and SEER 14 so now you have a better understanding of the differences between the two. But it best not to get too hung up as SEER 13 will be phased out shortly. Also, my buddies at Griffin Air are trying to educate you on why you shouldn’t get hung up on SEER in general as the same SEER is not created equal across different brands.

Also see:

Share This Guide

Leave a Comment