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Is a 16 SEER air conditioning system worth it over a 14 SEER in Houston, TX?

Zuhl | Posted in Mechanicals on

Building a new house, 1.5 story and looking to get the most bang for my buck. Doing 2×6 walls with polyseal spray and cellulose insulation. Will a 16 Seer be worth the addition $3-4 k I have been quoted? Energy prices here are currently 10-12 cents per kw hour, but do rise occasionally. I am most concerned about home comfort though and have been told by some folks that higher seer units in this humidity are not worth it. Any thoughts?

The house is appx 3500 sq ft with 2700 down and 800 up. I am looking at two units, a 4 Tom down and a 2 ton up.

I am also interested on thoughts on the necessity of a fresh air inlet. I am not using spray foam and will have an unconditioned attic, but I am using the polyseal and spray foam at all windows and joints and using the airtight can lights. I am trying to get as tight as I can for less cost. Not sure if that is tight enough to need a fresh air duct in AC. I don’t think the environments for living homes are doing this and they are using similar sealing methods.


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  1. Expert Member
  2. Zuhl | | #2

    Thank you for the links. I think I may have further confused myself. Looking up the model numbers, the vendor has quoted for the low end quote a Trane XB14 series. However when I look it up, it claims "up to 16 SEER". The high end unit he quoted was a Trane XR16i that claims up to 17.5 SEER. Is the "up to" rating something to be wary of? I know installation highly matters, but if installed properly with the proper coil, do I get a 16 SEER unit out of the XB14?

    I guess then I also wonder if I need the dual stage compressor of the XR16i? I have heard warning against them for lack of reliability.

    There is a series in between these two that I want to look into because they seem more like what I am after in terms of efficiency, cost, and noise levels.

  3. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #3

    I'm not sure what you mean by "Polyseal spray." There is an insulation company in Alaska called Polyseal Insulation, but I don't think that's the company. There is a company in Plano, Texas called Polyseal Coating -- they seem to make industrial paints. So please describe what you mean by Polyseal.

    You wrote, "I am not using spray foam and will have an unconditioned attic." I certainly hope that you don't plan to have any ductwork in your unconditioned attic. If you do have ducts there, then your questions concerning 14 SEER versus 16 SEER -- or 16 SEER vesus 17.5 SEER -- are totally off base.

    The type of equipment is irrelevant if your ductwork is outdoors. If you are considering spending $3,000 to $4,000 to upgrade your equipment, spend the money instead on bringing your ductwork inside your house.

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