As you do research for your next air conditioner, you may have come across the term “SEER rating.” What exactly does this rating mean, and why is it important? Use this SEER rating guide to discover everything you ought to know about AC efficiency ratings and the recent minimum SEER rating increase passed by the federal government.
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is a standard 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 offer a more accurate representation of an AC system’s energy efficiency.
Unlike the previous SEER rating system, which only factors in an air conditioner’s energy efficiency in lab conditions, the SEER2 metric delivers homeowners a more realistic picture of how an AC unit will operate once installed in their home. As a result, you can anticipate SEER2 ratings to be a lower number than SEER ratings, even though they reflect the same performance.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) determines 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 rating change in nearly a decade, when the necessary 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 meet the new minimums. Even so, homeowners with lower efficiency air conditioners are not required to replace them.
Air conditioning systems with higher SEER ratings tend to cost more up-front than units with lower SEER ratings. This is because ACs with higher SEER ratings utilize more advanced technology and materials to achieve higher performance. The good news is that while air conditioners with higher SEER ratings may demand 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 climate and electricity costs in your area, this could amount to hundreds of dollars in savings over the life of the system, making System B a more economical choice over time.
Times have changed, and homeowners are not stuck settling for the minimum SEER rating in your region, not when modern cooling systems are rated 26 SEER or higher. Consider the various benefits of investing in such a high-end system:
Now that you know what SEER ratings to seek out, you may be ready to shop for a replacement air conditioner. Turn to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning for access to some of today’s best HVAC systems. We can help you save on your energy bills for years to come by installing a reliable AC unit that meets or exceeds the federal minimum SEER2 rating. We’re so confident you’ll be satisfied with our services that we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee! For more information or to plan a free AC installation estimate, please contact a Service Experts office near you.
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