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 should know about AC efficiency ratings and the latest minimum SEER rating increase enacted by the federal government.
SEER is an acronym for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is a measure of how efficiently an air conditioner cools your home — or, to describe it another way, how effectively it 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 indicate a more energy-efficient air conditioning system.
SEER2 is an updated SEER rating system that factors real-world usage patterns and area 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 takes into account an air conditioner’s energy efficiency in laboratory conditions, the SEER2 metric provides 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 minimum efficiency rating increase 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 match 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 those with lower SEER ratings. This is because ACs with greater SEER ratings incorporate more innovative technology and materials to achieve higher performance. However, 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 could possibly save you 22% on your cooling costs in comparison to System A. Contingent on the climate and electricity costs where you live, this can potentially amount to hundreds of dollars in savings over the next few years, making System B a more economical choice in the long run.
Times have changed, and homeowners are not stuck settling 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:
Now that you know what SEER ratings to look for, you might be ready to look 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 utility 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 schedule a free AC installation estimate, please contact a Service Experts office near you.
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