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 discover everything you should know regarding AC efficiency ratings and the new minimum SEER rating increase mandated by the federal government.

Defines a SEER Rating?

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is a measurement of how well an air conditioner cools your home — or, to describe it another way, 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 electricity it uses over a whole season. Higher SEER ratings signify a more energy-efficient air conditioning system.

What Is SEER2?

SEER2 is a revised SEER rating system that considers real-world usage patterns and regional climate data. This new metric came into effect in January 2023 to offer a better depiction of an AC system’s energy efficiency.

Different from the former SEER rating system, which only factors in an air conditioner’s energy efficiency in lab conditions, the SEER2 metric provides homeowners a more authentic picture of how an AC unit will perform once setup in their home. Therefore, you can assume SEER2 ratings to be a lower figure than SEER ratings, although they reflect the same performance.

What Is the Federal Minimum SEER2 Rating in 2023?

The US Department of Energy (DOE) determines minimum efficiency standards for cooling 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 efficiency rating change since 2015, when the mandated minimum ratings were set to 13 SEER in the north and 14 SEER in the south. The DOE demands any new AC systems marketed and installed in the U.S. to match the new minimums. That said, homeowners with lower efficiency air conditioners do not need to trade them in.

How Do SEER Ratings Influence AC Costs?

Air conditioners with higher SEER ratings tend to cost more upon purchase than those with lower SEER ratings. This happens because ACs with better SEER ratings integrate more sophisticated technology and materials to obtain higher performance. While air conditioners with higher SEER ratings may require a larger investment, they’ll save you money ultimately by lowering your utility bills.

For instance, picture yourself 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 costly up-front, it can save you 22% on your utility costs compared to System A. Depending on the climate and electricity costs in your town, this could add up to hundreds of dollars in financial savings over the years ahead, making System B a more affordable solution in the long run.

Why Choose an AC with a Higher SEER Rating? 

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

  • Energy savings: As previously mentioned, ACs with higher SEER ratings are a great deal more energy efficient. By consuming less energy to accomplish the identical cooling output, a premium unit can save you substantially on your cooling bills every summer for the lifetime of the system.
  • Environmental impact: Reduced energy consumption translates to fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Choosing an AC with a higher SEER rating decreases your home’s carbon impact and adds to a more sustainable future.
  • Better comfort: Higher SEER-rated air conditioning systems are more hi-tech, with functions such as two-stage compressors and multi-speed fan motors. Not merely does this conserve energy and money, but it improves home comfort and results in quieter, more effective operation.
  • Higher home value: New, high-efficiency ACs are more desirable to home buyers than aged systems with lower ratings. When it’s time to move, having a high SEER-rated AC system can enhance the resale value and offer a compelling differentiator to potential buyers. This gives 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 consider, you might be ready to look for a replacement air conditioner. Turn to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning for a review of today’s best HVAC systems. You’ll reduce your energy bills for years into the future by installing an effective AC unit that conform to or exceeds the federal minimum SEER2 rating. We’re so certain you’ll be satisfied with our services that we have a 100% satisfaction guarantee! To find out more or to schedule a free AC installation estimate, please reach out to a Service Experts office near you.

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