SEER Ratings Guide

As you shop for a new AC system, you perhaps have stumbled on 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 ought to know about AC efficiency ratings and the recent minimum SEER rating increase enacted by the federal government.

Defines a SEER Rating?

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is a measure of how well an air conditioner cools your home — or, to be more precise, how successfully it 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 over a full season. Higher SEER ratings signify 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 regional climate data. This new metric commenced in January 2023 to offer a more accurate representation of an AC system’s energy efficiency.

Unlike the former SEER rating system, which only factors in an air conditioner’s energy efficiency in laboratory environments, the SEER2 metric offers homeowners a more accurate picture of how an air conditioner will function once installed in their home. For this reason, you can anticipate SEER2 ratings to be a lower figure than SEER ratings, despite the fact that they reflect the same performance.

What Is the Federal Minimum SEER2 Rating in 2023?

The US Department of Energy (DOE) establishes minimum efficiency standards for cooling 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 rating change in nearly a decade, when the necessary minimum ratings were required to be 13 SEER in the north and 14 SEER in the south. The DOE requires any new AC systems bought and installed in the United States to meet the new minimums. Even so, homeowners with lower efficiency air conditioners are not mandated to upgrade to the more efficient models.

How Do SEER Ratings Impact AC Prices?

Air conditioners with higher SEER ratings are likely to cost more upon purchase than the ones with lower SEER ratings. It is because ACs with higher SEER ratings incorporate more sophisticated technology and materials to attain higher performance. The good news is that while air conditioners with higher SEER ratings may require a larger investment, they can save you money ultimately by lowering your utility bills.

For instance, imagine comparing two brands of central air conditioners. System A has a SEER rating of 14 and costs $3,000, but System B has a SEER rating of 18 and costs $4,000. While System B is more expensive up-front, it can save you 22% on your energy costs when put next to System A. Contingent on the climate and electricity costs in your area, this could equate to hundreds of dollars in financial savings over the years ahead, making System B a more economical choice over time.

Why Pick 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 many benefits of purchasing such a high-end system:

  • Energy savings: As described previously, ACs with higher SEER ratings are more energy efficient. By using less energy to accomplish the identical cooling output, a premium unit can help you save significantly on your cooling expenses every summer for the lifetime of the system.
  • Environmental impact: Decreased energy usage will mean fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Opting for an AC with a higher SEER rating cuts down your home’s carbon impact and lends to a more sustainable future.
  • Better comfort: Higher SEER-rated cooling systems are more sophisticated, with specifications such as two-stage compressors and multi-speed fan motors. Not merely does this avoid wasting energy and money, but it improves home comfort and results in quieter, more reliable operation.
  • Higher home value: New, high-efficiency ACs are more desirable to buyers when you decide to sell your home than aged systems with lower ratings. If you’re planning to move, having a high SEER-rated AC system can raise the resale value and give your property an advantage to potential buyers. This provides you yet another way to recoup your original investment in a high-end air conditioner.

Install a New AC Unit Today

Now that you know what SEER ratings to look for, it’s time to go shopping for a replacement air conditioner. Turn to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning for access to some of today’s best HVAC systems. We can help you save on your utility bills for many years to come by installing an effective 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 find out more or to schedule a free AC installation estimate, please call a Service Experts office near you.

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