SEER Ratings Guide

As you shop for a new AC system, you perhaps have seen the term “SEER rating.” Ever wonder what a SEER rating is and why it matters? Use this SEER rating guide to discover everything you need to know about AC efficiency ratings and the new minimum SEER rating increase enacted by the federal government. 

Defines a SEER Rating? 

SEER is an acronym for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is a measure of how easily an air conditioner cools your home — or, to be more precise, how successfully the equipment removes heat from the indoor air. The SEER rating is determined by dividing the cooling output of an AC unit by the electrical power it consumes throughout an entire season. Higher SEER ratings indicate a more energy-efficient air conditioning system. 

What Is SEER2? 

SEER2 is the recently updated SEER rating system that accounts for real-world consumption patterns and local climate data. This new metric came into effect in January 2023 to provide a more precise 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 laboratory conditions, the SEER2 metric provides homeowners a more authentic picture of how an air conditioner will perform once setup in their home. For this reason, you can assume SEER2 ratings to be a lower number than SEER ratings, although they represent the same performance.  

What Is the Federal Minimum SEER2 Rating in 2023? 

The US Department of Energy (DOE) establishes minimum efficiency specifications 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 efficiency rating change since 2015, when the required minimum ratings were required to be 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 reach the new minimums. That said, homeowners with less efficient air conditioners do not need to trade them in. 

How Do SEER Ratings Affect AC Prices? 

Cooling systems with higher SEER ratings tend to cost more up-front than the ones with lower SEER ratings. This happens because ACs with higher SEER ratings utilize more sophisticated technology and materials to achieve higher performance. However, while air conditioners with higher SEER ratings may require a larger investment, they should save you money in the long run by lowering your utility bills. 

For instance, picture yourself 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 expensive up-front, it will probably save you 22% on your utility costs when put next to System A. Based on the environment and electricity costs in your area, this can potentially add up to hundreds of dollars in savings over the next few years, making System B a more economical choice in the long run. 

Why Pick an AC with a Higher SEER Rating? 

Times have changed, and homeowners are not stuck settling for the minimum SEER rating in your area, not when today’s most efficient systems are rated 26 SEER or higher. Look at the various benefits of investing in such a high-end system: 

  • Energy savings: As described previously, ACs with higher SEER ratings are a great deal more energy efficient. By consuming less energy to achieve the identical cooling output, a superior unit can help you save substantially on your cooling expenses each summer for the life expectancy of the system. 
  • Environmental impact: Decreased energy consumption will mean fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Choosing an AC with a higher SEER rating decreases your home’s carbon footprint and lends to a more sustainable future. 
  • Enhanced comfort: Higher SEER-rated air conditioning systems are more hi-tech, with specifications such as two-stage compressors and multi-speed fan motors. Not only does this conserve energy and money, but it boosts home comfort and results in quieter, more dependable operation.  
  • Increased home value: New, high-efficiency ACs are more appealing to home buyers than old systems with lower ratings. If you decide to move, having a high SEER-rated AC system can enhance the resale value and make your home more attractive to potential buyers. This gives you yet another way to recoup your early investment in a high-end air conditioner. 

Install a New AC Unit Soon 

Now that you know what SEER ratings to seek out, you might be ready to look for a replacement air conditioner. Turn to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning for a review of today’s best HVAC systems. We can help you save on your electricity or fuel bills for years to come by installing a reliable AC unit that conform to or exceeds the federal minimum SEER2 rating. We’re so certain you’ll be pleased with our services that we provide a 100% satisfaction guarantee! To find out more or to arrange a free AC installation estimate, please contact a Service Experts office near you

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