If you’re shopping for a new air conditioning system, 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 concerning AC efficiency ratings and the recent minimum SEER rating increase enacted by the federal government.
SEER is short for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is a measure of how efficiently an air conditioner cools your home — or, more accurately, how successfully 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 an entire season. Higher SEER ratings suggest a more energy-efficient air conditioning system.
SEER2 is an updated SEER rating system that accounts for real-world usage patterns and local climate data. This new metric came into effect in January 2023 to provide 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 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 represent the same performance.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) sets minimum efficiency standards for air conditioning 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 meet the new minimums. That said, homeowners with lower efficiency air conditioners are not required to replace them.
Air conditioning systems with higher SEER ratings tend to cost more upon purchase than those with lower SEER ratings. This is because ACs with higher SEER ratings utilize more advanced 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 costs more up-front, it can save you 22% on your cooling costs compared to System A. Contingent on the climate and electricity costs where you live, this could perhaps add up to hundreds of dollars in savings over the years ahead, making System B a more cost-effective choice over time.
Times have changed, and homeowners are not stuck settling for the minimum SEER rating in your region, not when the current AC units are rated 26 SEER or higher. Consider the many 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 electricity or fuel bills for years to come by installing an effective AC unit that matches or exceeds the federal minimum SEER2 rating. We’re so certain 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 call a Service Experts office near you.
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