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 learn everything you need to know regarding AC efficiency ratings and the latest minimum SEER rating increase enacted by the federal government.
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is a measure of how easily an air conditioner cools your home — or, more accurately, how successfully the AC unit 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 an entire season. Higher SEER ratings signify 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 commenced in January 2023 to provide 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 lab conditions, the SEER2 metric provides homeowners a more accurate picture of how an AC unit will perform once setup in their home. As a result, you can assume SEER2 ratings to be a lower number than SEER ratings, although they reflect the same performance.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) establishes minimum efficiency standards 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 efficiency rating change since 2015, when the required 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. However, homeowners with lower efficiency air conditioners are not mandated to upgrade to the more efficient models.
Air conditioning systems with higher SEER ratings tend to cost more up-front than those with lower SEER ratings. This is because ACs with greater SEER ratings incorporate more advanced technology and materials to achieve 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 costly up-front, it could possibly save you 22% on your cooling costs compared to System A. Based on the climate and electricity costs where you live, this could perhaps equate to hundreds of dollars in savings over the next few years, making System B a more cost-effective choice in the long run.
You have more options than to just settle for the minimum SEER rating in your state, not when today’s most efficient 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 look for, it’s time to go shopping for a replacement air conditioner. Turn to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning for access to some of today’s best HVAC systems. You’ll save on your energy bills for many 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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