SEER Ratings Guide

If you’re shopping for a new air conditioning system, you perhaps have stumbled on the term “SEER rating.” Ever wonder what a SEER rating is and why it matters? Use this SEER rating guide to educate yourself on everything you ought to know concerning AC efficiency ratings and the latest minimum SEER rating increase mandated by the federal government. 

Defines a SEER Rating? 

SEER is short for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is a measure of how efficiently an air conditioner cools your home — or, to describe it another way, how well the equipment 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 over a whole season. Higher SEER ratings signify 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 offer a more accurate depiction of an AC system’s energy efficiency. 

Contrary to the former SEER rating system, which only takes into account an air conditioner’s energy efficiency in controlled environments, the SEER2 metric offers homeowners a more realistic picture of how an air conditioner will function once installed in their home. As a result, you can assume 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) sets minimum efficiency requirements 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 mandated minimum ratings were set to 13 SEER in the north and 14 SEER in the south. The DOE called for any new AC systems sold and installed in the U.S. to meet the new minimums. That said, homeowners with less efficient air conditioners are not mandated to upgrade to the more efficient models. 

How Do SEER Ratings Impact AC Expenditures? 

Air conditioning systems with higher SEER ratings generally cost more initially 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. The good news is that while air conditioners with higher SEER ratings may involve a larger investment, they often save you money over the long haul by lowering your utility bills. 

For instance, imagine comparing a couple of 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 is more expensive up-front, it could possibly save you 22% on your cooling costs compared to System A. Based on the weather and electricity costs in your area, this can potentially add up to hundreds of dollars in savings over the life of the system, making System B a more cost-effective solution long term. 

Why Purchase an AC with a Higher SEER Rating? 

You have more options than to just settle for the minimum SEER rating in your area, not when the current AC units are rated 26 SEER or higher. Think about the numerous benefits of investing in such a high-end system: 

  • Energy savings: As described previously, ACs with higher SEER ratings are more energy efficient. By consuming less energy to get the identical cooling output, a superior unit can help you save considerably on your cooling expenses every summer for the lifetime of the system. 
  • Environmental impact: Less energy consumption ensures fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Selecting an AC with a higher SEER rating reduces your home’s carbon footprint and leads to a more eco- friendly future. 
  • Improved comfort: Higher SEER-rated cooling systems are more advanced, with specifications such as two-stage compressors and multi-speed fan motors. Not only does this avoid wasting energy and money, but it enhances home comfort and results in quieter, more reliable operation.  
  • Higher home value: New, high-efficiency ACs are more appealing to buyers when you decide to sell your home than aged systems with lower ratings. If you decide to move, having a high SEER-rated AC system can improve the resale value and make your home more attractive to potential buyers. This provides you yet another way to get back your initial investment in a high-end air conditioner. 

Install a New AC Unit Soon 

Now that you know what SEER ratings to look for, you may be ready to shop for a replacement air conditioner. Turn to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning for a review of today’s best HVAC systems. You can conserve your energy bills for many years to come by installing a reliable AC unit that matches or exceeds the federal minimum SEER2 rating. We’re so confident you’ll be delighted with our services that we have a 100% satisfaction guarantee! To learn more or to arrange a free AC installation estimate, please contact a Service Experts office near you

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