SEER Ratings Guide

As you do research for your next air conditioner, you may have encountered 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 about AC efficiency ratings and the new minimum SEER rating increase passed by the federal government.

What Is a SEER Rating?

SEER is an acronym for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is a standard of how easily an air conditioner cools your home — or, more accurately, how effectively the AC unit removes heat from the indoor air. The SEER rating is determined by dividing the cooling output of an air conditioner by the electrical power it uses over an entire season. Higher SEER ratings indicate a more energy-efficient air conditioning system.

What Is SEER2?

SEER2 is a revised SEER rating system that factors real-world consumption patterns and local climate data. This new metric came into effect in January 2023 to provide a more precise depiction of an AC system’s energy efficiency.

Contrary to the last SEER rating system, which only considers an air conditioner’s energy efficiency in controlled conditions, the SEER2 metric offers homeowners a more realistic picture of how a cooling system will perform once setup in their home. So, you can anticipate SEER2 ratings to be a lower figure than SEER ratings, although they exhibit the same performance.

What Is the Federal Minimum SEER2 Rating in 2023?

The US Department of Energy (DOE) establishes minimum efficiency standards for air conditioning 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 rating change in nearly a decade, when the mandated minimum ratings were established at 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 match the new minimums. Even so, homeowners with less efficient air conditioners do not need to trade them in.

How Do SEER Ratings Influence AC Expenditures?

Air conditioning systems with higher SEER ratings generally cost more initially than units with lower SEER ratings. This happens because ACs with higher SEER ratings incorporate more advanced technology and materials to achieve higher performance. The good news is that while air conditioners with higher SEER ratings may require a larger investment, they’ll save you money in the long run by lowering your utility bills.

Case in point, imagine comparing a pair 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 could possibly save you 22% on your cooling costs in comparison to System A. Contingent on the weather and electricity costs where you live, this can potentially add up to hundreds of dollars in financial savings over the next few years, making System B a more cost-effective choice over time.

Why Choose an AC with a Higher SEER Rating? 

Times have changed, and homeowners are not stuck settling for the minimum SEER rating in your region, not when modern cooling systems are rated 26 SEER or higher. Consider the numerous benefits of purchasing such a high-end system:

  • Energy savings: As described previously, ACs with higher SEER ratings are considerably more energy efficient. By utilizing less energy to accomplish the equivalent cooling output, a premium unit can save you considerably on your cooling costs each summer for the life span of the system.
  • Environmental impact: Reduced energy usage means fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Opting for an AC with a higher SEER rating cuts down your home’s carbon impact and adds to a more environmentally safe future.
  • Better comfort: Higher SEER-rated air conditioning systems are more sophisticated, with functions such as two-stage compressors and multi-speed fan motors. Not merely does this conserve energy and money, but it boosts home comfort and results in quieter, more reliable operation.
  • Increased 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 offers you yet another way to get back your early investment in a high-end air conditioner.

Install a New AC Unit Today

Now that you understand what SEER ratings to seek out, 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. You’ll reduce your energy bills for 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 pleased with our services that we offer you a 100% satisfaction guarantee! To learn more or to plan a free AC installation estimate, please reach out to a Service Experts office near you.

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