15 SEER vs 16 SEER Energy Saving Calculator + Chart

Alright, let’s say you are faced with a 15 SEER vs 16 SEER mini split choice. Which one to choose? You probably know the upfront cost difference. The next thing you should do is account for the energy savings. To help you out, we have prepared these 2 key resources you will need:

  1. 15 SEER vs 16 SEER Energy Saving Calculator. Here you insert AC tonnage (Example: 3 ton) and electricity rates (Example: $0.15/kWh). The calculator will automatically determine the 1-year, 10-year, and 20-year energy savings.
  2. 15 SEER vs 16 SEER Savings Chart. We have calculated energy savings of 16 SEER unit over 15 SEER unit for 1-8 ton AC units at $0.15/kWh and summarized the 1-year, 10-year, and 20-year savings in a colorful chart.

The key difference between 15 SEER and 16 SEER AC units is this:

16 SEER unit is 6.67% more energy efficient than a 15 SEER unit.

That 6.67% savings in favor of 16 SEER unit can save a couple of $100s in 20 years, but very rarely more than $1000.

This can result in significant electricity savings in the next 20 years. Before we check out the calculator and chart, let’s solve one example to illustrate how to make the most economically viable 15 SEER vs 16 SEER decision.

Example: We are looking for a 4-ton AC unit, and are deciding between 15 SEER and 16 SEER unit. The difference in the upfront cost (looking at 2 quotes for each unit) is $1,236. Can the energy savings justify this difference is cost? Will this difference pay for itself if we choose a 16 SEER unit instead of a less energy efficient 15 SEER unit?

Here are the average electricity costs, based on the 1,000 running hours per year and $0.15/kWh electricity rates:

  • 4-ton 15 SEER average running wattage is 3,200W. That means we are using 3.2 kWh per running hour. In 1 year, that is 3,200 kWh electricity usage. At $0.15/kWh, the running cost will be $480/year, $4,800/10-years, and $9,600/20-years.
  • 4-ton 16 SEER average running wattage is 3,000W. That means we are using 3 kWh per running hour. In 1 year, that is 3,000 kWh electricity usage. At $0.15/kWh, the running cost will be $450/year, $4,500/10-years, and $9,000/20-years.

We can see that by choosing 16 SEER over 15 SEER unit (in this situation), we are saving $30 per year. That’s $600 savings in 20 years.

The initial price difference, however, is $1,236. This means that the energy savings will not be enough to justify the higher price of the 16 SEER unit ($600 savings vs. $1,236 cost difference). In this case, it would make a lot of financial sense to go with the 15 SEER unit.

If, however, the price difference would be much lower (say $300), it would be more reasonable to go with a 16 SEER unit.

Now, you might not be looking for a 4-ton unit, and your electricity prices are probably not $0.15/kWh.

To help you calculate 15 SEER vs 16 SEER energy savings for your particular situation, we have prepared a calculator that does all of these calculations automatically. You specify the AC tonnage and electricity prices, and you will get 1-year, 10-year, and 20-year savings automatically.

Below the calculator, you will also find that colorful chart where we have summarized 15 SEER vs 16 SEER energy savings for 1-8 AC unit:

15 SEER Vs 16 SEER Savings Calculator

 

Let’s illustrate how to use this online calculator:

Say we are deciding between 3.5-ton 15 SEER and 3.6-ton 16 SEER unit. We need to calculate the energy savings. We know that our electricity price is $0.21/kWh (quite high). To calculate 1-year, 10-year, and 20-year savings, just slide the 1st tonnage slider to ‘3.5’ and the 2nd electricity price slider to ‘0.21’, and you get the result:

By choosing 16 SEER over 15 SEER unit in this situation, we are saving $36.75 per year. That’s $367.50 savings in 10 years, and $735.00 savings in 20 years.

Now, if the 16 SEER unit costs more than $735 more than the 15 SEER unit, you go with the 15 SEER unit. If, on the other hand, the price difference is say $400, the financially more viable choice would be the 16 SEER unit.

Here is the colorful 15 SEER vs 16 SEER chart, based on 1,000 running hours per year and $0.15/kWh electricity prices, that will help you check the energy savings for 1-8 ton AC units:

15 SEER Vs 16 SEER Chart For 1-8 Ton Air Conditioners (Mini Splits)

Unit Size (Tonnage): 1-Year Savings ($): 10-Year Savings ($): 20-Year Savings ($):
1 Ton $7.50 Savings Per Year $75.00 Per 10 Years $150.00 Per 20 Years
1.5 Ton $11.25 Savings Per Year $112.50 Per 10 Years $225.00 Per 20 Years
2 Ton $15.00 Savings Per Year $150.00 Per 10 Years $300.00 Per 20 Years
2.5 Ton $18.75 Savings Per Year $187.50 Per 10 Years $375.00 Per 20 Years
3 Ton $22.50 Savings Per Year $225.00 Per 10 Years $450.00 Per 20 Years
3.5 Ton $26.25 Savings Per Year $262.50 Per 10 Years $525.00 Per 20 Years
4 Ton $30.00 Savings Per Year $300.00 Per 10 Years $600.00 Per 20 Years
5 Ton $37.50 Savings Per Year $375.00 Per 10 Years $750.00 Per 20 Years
6 Ton $45.00 Savings Per Year $450.00 Per 10 Years $900.00 Per 20 Years
7 Ton $52.50 Savings Per Year $525.00 Per 10 Years $1,050.00 Per 20 Years
8 Ton $60.00 Savings Per Year $600.00 Per 10 Years $1,200.00 Per 20 Year

As we can see, by opting for 16 SEER unit over 15 SEER unit, we are saving:

  • Anywhere from $7.50 to $60.00 per year.
  • Anywhere from $75 to $600 in 10 years.
  • Anywhere from $150 to $1,200 in 20 years.

With these calculations, and with the help of the calculator and this chart, you are now fully equipped to calculate the 15 SEER vs 16 SEER energy savings. If in doubt, you can always use the comment section below, give us some numbers, and we can help you out with the calculations.

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