SEER Ratings Guide

As you do research for your next air conditioner, you perhaps have encountered the term “SEER rating.” Ever wonder what a SEER rating is and why it matters? Use this SEER rating guide to learn everything you should know regarding AC efficiency ratings and the latest minimum SEER rating increase enacted by the federal government.

What Is a SEER Rating?

SEER is short for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is a measurement of how well an air conditioner cools your home — or, to describe it another way, how well it removes heat from the indoor air. The SEER rating is determined by dividing the cooling output of an air conditioner by the electricity it uses throughout a whole season. Higher SEER ratings indicate a more energy-efficient air conditioning system.

What Is SEER2?

SEER2 is the recently updated SEER rating system that factors real-world usage patterns and area climate data. This new metric commenced in January 2023 to offer a more accurate depiction of an AC system’s energy efficiency.

Different from the last SEER rating system, which only factors in an air conditioner’s energy efficiency in controlled environments, the SEER2 metric provides homeowners a more realistic picture of how a cooling system will perform once setup in their home. So, you can assume SEER2 ratings to be a lower figure than SEER ratings, even though they exhibit the same performance.

What Is the Federal Minimum SEER2 Rating in 2023?

The US Department of Energy (DOE) establishes minimum efficiency requirements for air conditioning systems. In 2023, the minimum SEER ratings for central air conditioners rose 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 necessary minimum ratings were set to 13 SEER in the north and 14 SEER in the south. The DOE called for any new AC systems marketed and installed in America to meet the new minimums. Even so, homeowners with less efficient air conditioners are not mandated to upgrade to the more efficient models.

How Do SEER Ratings Impact AC Costs?

Cooling systems with higher SEER ratings tend to cost more initially than units with lower SEER ratings. This is because ACs with greater SEER ratings integrate more sophisticated technology and materials to obtain higher performance. The good news is that while air conditioners with higher SEER ratings may require a larger investment, they can save you money ultimately by lowering your energy bills.

For example, imagine comparing a pair of central air conditioners. System A has a SEER rating of 14 and costs $3,000, and System B has a SEER rating of 18 and costs $4,000. While System B costs more up-front, it will probably save you 22% on your cooling costs in comparison to System A. Depending on the weather and electricity costs in your area, this can potentially add up to hundreds of dollars in savings over the years ahead, making System B a more cost-effective solution long term.

Why Pick an AC with a Higher SEER Rating? 

You have more options than to just settle for the minimum SEER rating in your region, not when today’s most efficient systems are rated 26 SEER or higher. Consider the numerous benefits of purchasing such a high-end system:

  • Energy savings: As described previously, ACs with higher SEER ratings are more energy efficient. By utilizing less energy to achieve the equivalent cooling output, a premium unit can save you substantially on your cooling expenses every summer for the life span of the system.
  • Environmental impact: Less energy consumption ensures fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Picking out an AC with a higher SEER rating decreases your home’s carbon footprint and contributes to a more eco- friendly future.
  • Enhanced comfort: Higher SEER-rated cooling systems are more hi-tech, with functions such as two-stage compressors and multi-speed fan motors. Not merely does this avoid wasting energy and money, but it boosts home comfort resulting in quieter, more dependable operation.
  • Increased home value: New, high-efficiency ACs are more enticing to home buyers than old systems with lower ratings. When it’s time to move, having a high SEER-rated AC system can increase the resale value and offer a compelling differentiator to potential buyers. This provides you yet another way to recoup your initial investment in a high-end air conditioner.

Install a New AC Unit Now

Now that you understand what SEER ratings to consider, it’s time to go shopping for a replacement air conditioner. Turn to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning for some of today’s best HVAC systems. You can conserve your energy bills for many years to come by installing an effective AC unit that meets or exceeds the federal minimum SEER2 rating. We’re so sure you’ll be thrilled with our services that we offer you a 100% satisfaction guarantee! For more information or to arrange a free AC installation estimate, please call a Service Experts office near you.

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