SEER Ratings Guide

As you do research for your next air conditioner, you probably have stumbled on the term “SEER rating.” What exactly does this rating mean, and why is it important? Use this SEER rating guide to educate yourself on everything you should know about AC efficiency ratings and the latest minimum SEER rating increase passed by the federal government.

What Is a SEER Rating?

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

What Is SEER2?

SEER2 is an updated SEER rating system that considers real-world consumption patterns and local climate data. This new metric took effect in January 2023 to offer a more precise representation of an AC system’s energy efficiency.

Contrary to the last SEER rating system, which only factors in an air conditioner’s energy efficiency in laboratory conditions, the SEER2 metric offers homeowners a more accurate picture of how a cooling system will perform once setup in their home. For this reason, you can expect SEER2 ratings to be a lower figure than SEER ratings, even though they represent the same performance.

What Is the Federal Minimum SEER2 Rating in 2023?

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 necessary minimum ratings were established at 13 SEER in the north and 14 SEER in the south. The DOE called for any new AC systems bought and installed in America to reach the new minimums. That said, homeowners with less efficient air conditioners do not need to trade them in.

How Do SEER Ratings Impact AC Prices?

Air conditioners with higher SEER ratings have a tendency to cost more initially than units with lower SEER ratings. It is because ACs with better SEER ratings incorporate more sophisticated technology and materials to achieve higher performance. The good news is that while air conditioners with higher SEER ratings may involve a larger investment, they’ll 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, and 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 utility costs compared to System A. Based on the climate and electricity costs where you live, this can potentially amount to hundreds of dollars in financial savings over the years ahead, making System B a more economical option in the long run.

Why Pick an AC with a Higher SEER Rating? 

You have more options than to just settle for the minimum SEER rating in your state, not when modern cooling systems are rated 26 SEER or higher. Think about the various benefits of purchasing such a high-end system:

  • Energy savings: As described previously, ACs with higher SEER ratings are more energy efficient. By using less energy to get the equivalent cooling output, a high-end unit can save you significantly on your cooling bills every summer for the life expectancy of the system.
  • Environmental impact: Less energy usage means fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Selecting an AC with a higher SEER rating cuts down your home’s carbon footprint and contributes to a more eco- friendly future.
  • Better comfort: Higher SEER-rated cooling systems are more advanced, with specifications such as two-stage compressors and multi-speed fan motors. Not merely does this save energy and money, but it enhances home comfort resulting in quieter, more effective operation.
  • Increased home value: New, high-efficiency ACs are more appealing to buyers when you decide to sell your home than outdated systems with lower ratings. If you’re planning to move, having a high SEER-rated AC system can raise the resale value and offer a compelling differentiator to potential buyers. This gives you yet another way to recover your original investment in a high-end air conditioner.

Install a New AC Unit Soon

Now that you understand what SEER ratings to seek out, you may be ready to shop for a replacement air conditioner. Turn to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning for access to some of today’s best HVAC systems. You can conserve your electricity or fuel bills for years to come by installing an efficient AC unit that matches or exceeds the federal minimum SEER2 rating. We’re so certain you’ll be delighted with our services that we provide a 100% satisfaction guarantee! To learn more or to plan a free AC installation estimate, please contact a Service Experts office near you.

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