As you shop for a new AC system, you may have come across the term “SEER rating.” Ever wonder what a SEER rating is and why it matters? Use this SEER rating guide to learn everything you ought to know about AC efficiency ratings and the new minimum SEER rating increase enacted by the federal government.
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is a measurement of how efficiently an air conditioner cools your home — or, to describe it another way, how effectively the equipment removes heat from the indoor air. The SEER rating is calculated by dividing the cooling output of an AC unit by the electricity it consumes across a whole season. Higher SEER ratings indicate a more energy-efficient air conditioning system.
SEER2 is an updated SEER rating system that accounts for real-world usage patterns and regional climate data. This new metric took effect in January 2023 to give a more accurate representation of an AC system’s energy efficiency.
Unlike the previous SEER rating system, which only considers an air conditioner’s energy efficiency in controlled conditions, the SEER2 metric offers homeowners a more authentic picture of how an AC unit will function once added in their home. As a result, you can expect SEER2 ratings to be a lower number than SEER ratings, despite the fact that they represent the same performance.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) sets minimum efficiency requirements for HVAC systems. In 2023, the minimum SEER ratings for central air conditioners increased to 14 SEER (13.4 SEER2) in the northern U.S. and 15 SEER (14.3 SEER2) in the southern U.S.
This is the first minimum efficiency rating increase since 2015, when the mandated minimum ratings were set to 13 SEER in the north and 14 SEER in the south. The DOE requires any new AC systems sold and installed in the U.S. to reach the new minimums. However, homeowners with lower efficiency air conditioners are not required to replace them.
Air conditioning systems with higher SEER ratings tend to cost more initially than units with lower SEER ratings. This is because ACs with higher SEER ratings integrate more advanced technology and materials to attain higher performance. However, while air conditioners with higher SEER ratings may involve a larger investment, they can save you money in the long run by lowering your energy bills.
For example, let’s say you’re comparing two central air conditioners. System A has a SEER rating of 14 and costs $3,000, while System B has a SEER rating of 18 and costs $4,000. While System B is more expensive up-front, it can save you 22% on your cooling costs compared to System A. Depending on the environment and electricity costs in your town, this could perhaps equate to hundreds of dollars in savings over the years ahead, making System B a more cost-effective choice over time.
You have more options than to just settle for the minimum SEER rating in your area, not when modern cooling systems are rated 26 SEER or higher. Consider the many benefits of purchasing such a high-end system:
Now that you know what SEER ratings to look for, it’s time to go shopping for a replacement air conditioner. Turn to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning for a review of today’s best HVAC systems. You’ll save on your electricity or fuel bills for years to come by installing an effective AC unit that matches or exceeds the federal minimum SEER2 rating. We’re so certain you’ll be satisfied with our services that we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee! For more information or to schedule a free AC installation estimate, please reach out to a Service Experts office near you.
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