As you shop for a new AC system, you may have come across the term “SEER rating.” But what does a SEER rating measure and why does that matter? Use this SEER rating guide to learn everything you should know regarding AC efficiency ratings and the latest 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, more accurately, how effectively 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 indicate a more energy-efficient air conditioning system.
SEER2 is an updated SEER rating system that factors real-world usage patterns and regional climate data. This new metric came into 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 operate once installed in their home. As a result, you can expect 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 mandated to upgrade to the more efficient models.
Air conditioning systems with higher SEER ratings tend to cost more up-front than the ones with lower SEER ratings. This is because ACs with better SEER ratings integrate more innovative 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 costs more up-front, it can save you 22% on your cooling costs compared to System A. Depending on the weather and electricity costs where you live, this can potentially amount to hundreds of dollars in savings over the life of the system, making System B a more cost-effective choice long term.
You don’t have to 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 investing in 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. You can 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 arrange a free AC installation estimate, please call a Service Experts office near you.
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