• Cost Advantage of a 20 SEER Heat Pump Over a 16 SEER Model

    A 20 SEER heat pump will cost more than a 16 SEER model, but it will lower your energy use and costs. Is it worth it? Let’s take a look at the cost difference of the equipment and the potential savings on your electricity bills.

    Saving on Electricity Cost

    The math on this is simple. A 20 SEER heat pump uses 20 percent less energy than a 16 SEER heat pump since 16 divided by 20 is .8.

    The challenging part is to determine how much you’re spending on heating and air conditioning. Most energy pie charts allot about 45 percent of home energy use for HVAC.

    If temperatures are extreme where you live, it could be as high as 55 percent; if your climate is moderate, 35 percent might be more accurate. Also, if you have an electric water heater or electric dryer, the percentage of your bill allotted to the heat pump should be 10 to 15 percent less.

    Next, use your energy bills to estimate how much you’re spending on heating and air conditioning.

    If you know the SEER rating of your current heat pump, then you’ll be able to determine how much you’ll save with a 16 SEER or 20 SEER model.

    For example, if you have a 10 SEER model, then a 16 SEER model will reduce costs by 37 percent. A 20 SEER heat pump will reduce costs by 50 percent.

    Doing the Math

    Here’s an example of a home with a 10 SEER heat pump in an average climate, not extreme or temperate, where 45 percent of energy consumed is used by the HVAC system.

    The electric bill: $180

    $180 x .45 = $81 for heating and air conditioning

    16 SEER heat pump: $81 x .37 = $29.97 savings

    20 SEER heat pump: $81 x .50 = $40.50 savings

    Remember to adjust the 45 percent for heating and AC up or down depending on your climate and whether or not you heat water and/or dry clothes with electricity.

    Heat Pump Costs

    The second major consideration is the difference in the cost between a 16 SEER heat pump and a 20 SEER heat pump. The payback period is the time it will take you to recover the extra cost of a 20 SEER model given your monthly savings on energy.

    Here are some examples of heat pump prices. Get estimates from three or more HVAC companies to find the qualified contractor with the best prices in your area. You can do that very conveniently with the form on this page. There is no cost or obligation for using the service.

    • 3-ton 16 SEER, two-stage heat pump: $2,600
    • 3-ton 20 SEER, two-stage heat pump: 3,600
    • 3-ton 20 SEER, modulating heat pump: $4,000-$4,600

    Conclusions

    It will take some numbers crunching to determine the specifics of how much you’ll save per month and how long your payback period for buying the more efficient model will be. You should be able determine which unit makes more sense for your circumstances.

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