SEER Ratings Guide

If you’re shopping for a new air conditioning system, you may 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 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 measure 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 scored by dividing the cooling output of an air conditioner by the electricity it needs across a full season. Higher SEER ratings indicate 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 area climate data. This new metric commenced in January 2023 to provide a more accurate representation of an AC system’s energy efficiency.

Contrary to the previous SEER rating system, which only factors in an air conditioner’s energy efficiency in controlled conditions, the SEER2 metric provides homeowners a more authentic picture of how a cooling system will operate once setup in their home. Therefore, you can assume SEER2 ratings to be a lower figure than SEER ratings, even though they reflect the same performance.

What Is the Federal Minimum SEER2 Rating in 2023?

The US Department of Energy (DOE) sets minimum efficiency specifications for air conditioning systems. In 2023, the minimum SEER ratings for central air conditioners improved 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 required to be 13 SEER in the north and 14 SEER in the south. The DOE demands any new AC systems bought and installed in the U.S. to meet the new minimums. That said, homeowners with less efficient air conditioners are not required to replace them.

How Do SEER Ratings Impact AC Expenditures?

Air conditioning systems with higher SEER ratings tend to cost more initially than units with lower SEER ratings. This is because ACs with better SEER ratings incorporate more innovative technology and materials to achieve higher performance. While air conditioners with higher SEER ratings may involve a larger investment, they’ll save you money over the long haul by lowering your utility bills.

For example, imagine comparing a pair 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 will probably save you 22% on your utility costs compared to System A. Contingent on the weather and electricity costs where you live, this could perhaps amount to hundreds of dollars in financial savings over the next few years, making System B a more affordable option in the long run.

Why Buy 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 stated earlier, ACs with higher SEER ratings are a great deal more energy efficient. By consuming less energy to get the identical cooling output, a top-quality unit can help you save significantly on your cooling bills every summer for the lifetime of the system.
  • Environmental impact: Less energy consumption ensures fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Choosing an AC with a higher SEER rating decreases your home’s carbon impact and adds to a more environmentally safe 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 avoid wasting energy and money, but it boosts home comfort and results in quieter, more effective operation.
  • Top home value: New, high-efficiency ACs are more enticing to prospective home buyers at resale time than outdated 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 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 realize 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 conserve your energy bills for years to come by installing an efficient AC unit that matches or exceeds the federal minimum SEER2 rating. We’re so sure you’ll be satisfied with our services that we offer you a 100% satisfaction guarantee! For more information or to plan a free AC installation estimate, please reach out to a Service Experts office near you.

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