When upgrading your HVAC system, understanding SEER ratings is crucial for maximizing energy efficiency and reducing operating costs. SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, measures air conditioning and heat pump cooling efficiency, which is particularly relevant for homeowners in Philadelphia, given the city's hot summers and variable climate.

What is a SEER Rating?

SEER ratings indicate the amount of cooling a system will deliver per watt of electricity consumed. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the unit. As of January 2023, the minimum standard SEER rating is 14 in the Northern US, including Pennsylvania. However, systems can have SEER ratings as high as 20 or more.

Benefits of High SEER Ratings

  1. Reduced Energy Bills: Higher SEER ratings mean more efficient energy use, which translates into lower electricity bills—a key consideration during Philadelphia's humid summers.

  2. Environmental Impact: Efficient systems reduce your home's carbon footprint by consuming less energy.

  3. Enhanced Comfort: High SEER units often include advanced features like variable speed blowers and compressors that keep temperatures more consistent and control humidity effectively.

Considerations When Choosing a SEER Rating

  1. Initial Cost vs. Long-term Savings: Units with higher SEER ratings tend to be more expensive initially. However, they may lead to significant savings in energy costs over the life of the system. Calculate the payback period to see how long it will take for the savings to offset the higher initial cost.

  2. Climate: In Philadelphia, with its mix of hot summers and cold winters, a higher SEER rating can provide cooling more efficiently. However, it's important to balance this with the needs of your heating system, especially if you're considering a heat pump.

  3. Size and Installation: An improperly sized or installed HVAC system, regardless of its SEER rating, will not operate efficiently. Ensure that your new system is correctly sized for your home and professionally installed.


Upgrading to a higher SEER-rated HVAC system can offer substantial benefits in terms of energy savings, environmental impact, and personal comfort. When considering an upgrade, factor in your specific needs, local climate, and potential long-term savings. For expert advice and installation services, consider consulting with local Philadelphia HVAC specialists, like those at McCorry Comfort, who are familiar with the nuances of upgrading systems in the area.

By choosing wisely, you can ensure your HVAC upgrade is a worthwhile investment, keeping your home comfortable and your energy bills low throughout the year.