As you shop for a new AC 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 educate yourself on everything you need to know about AC efficiency ratings and the recent minimum SEER rating increase mandated by the federal government.
SEER is short for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is a measure of how well an air conditioner cools your home — or, to be more precise, how well it 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 a full season. Higher SEER ratings indicate a more energy-efficient air conditioning system.
SEER2 is an updated SEER rating system that considers real-world usage patterns and regional climate data. This new metric came into effect in January 2023 to give 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 provides homeowners a more accurate picture of how an AC unit will perform once added in their home. As a result, you can expect 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 specifications for cooling 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 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. However, homeowners with lower efficiency air conditioners are not required to replace them.
Air conditioning systems with higher SEER ratings tend to cost more up-front 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 is more costly up-front, it will probably save you 22% on your cooling costs compared to System A. Depending on the weather and electricity costs where you live, this could amount to hundreds of dollars in savings over the next few years, making System B a more cost-effective choice over time.
You have more options than to just settle for the minimum SEER rating in your state, not when today’s most efficient systems are rated 26 SEER or higher. Consider the numerous benefits of spending your money on such a high-end system:
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 access to some of today’s best HVAC systems. You can save on your energy bills for years to come by installing a reliable AC unit that meets 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 contact a Service Experts office near you.
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