SEER Ratings Guide

If you’re shopping for a new air conditioning system, you probably 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 about AC efficiency ratings and the latest minimum SEER rating increase passed by the federal government.

Defines 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, more accurately, how effectively it removes heat from the indoor air. The SEER rating is determined by dividing the cooling output of an air conditioner by the electric energy it needs across an entire season. Higher SEER ratings suggest a more energy-efficient air conditioning system.

What Is SEER2?

SEER2 is an updated SEER rating system that accounts for real-world usage patterns and local climate data. This new metric commenced in January 2023 to offer a more accurate depiction of an AC system’s energy efficiency.

Different from the last SEER rating system, which only takes into account an air conditioner’s energy efficiency in controlled conditions, the SEER2 metric delivers homeowners a more realistic picture of how an AC unit will operate once installed in their home. Therefore, you can anticipate 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) determines minimum efficiency standards for air conditioning systems. In 2023, the minimum SEER ratings for central air conditioners rose 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 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 United States to match the new minimums. That said, homeowners with less efficient air conditioners are not required to replace them.

How Do SEER Ratings Affect AC Prices?

Air conditioners with higher SEER ratings are likely to cost more initially than the ones with lower SEER ratings. This happens because ACs with higher SEER ratings utilize more innovative technology and materials to obtain higher performance. However, while air conditioners with higher SEER ratings may involve a larger investment, they should save you money eventually by lowering your utility bills.

Case in point, let’s say you’re comparing two brands of 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 could possibly save you 22% on your cooling costs when put next to System A. Based on the weather and electricity costs where you live, this could amount to hundreds of dollars in savings over the life of the system, making System B a more affordable solution in the long run.

Why Buy an AC with a Higher SEER Rating? 

You don’t have to settle for the minimum SEER rating in your region, not when modern cooling systems are rated 26 SEER or higher. Think about the numerous benefits of spending your money on such a high-end system:

  • Energy savings: As described previously, ACs with higher SEER ratings are considerably more energy efficient. By consuming less energy to achieve the equivalent cooling output, a high-end unit can help you save considerably on your cooling expenses each summer for the life span of the system.
  • Environmental impact: Decreased energy usage will mean fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Opting for an AC with a higher SEER rating reduces your home’s carbon footprint and lends to a more sustainable future.
  • Improved comfort: Higher SEER-rated cooling systems are more sophisticated, with features such as two-stage compressors and multi-speed fan motors. Not merely does this conserve energy and money, but it enhances home comfort and results in quieter, more effective operation.
  • Increased home value: New, high-efficiency ACs are more desirable 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 offer a compelling differentiator to potential buyers. This offers you yet another way to recoup your original investment in a high-end air conditioner.

Install a New AC Unit Today

Now that you realize what SEER ratings to consider, 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’ll reduce your utility bills for years to come by installing an efficient AC unit that meets or exceeds the federal minimum SEER2 rating. We’re so confident you’ll be thrilled with our services that we provide a 100% satisfaction guarantee! For more information or to plan a free AC installation estimate, please call a Service Experts office near you.

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