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SEER Ratings Guide

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 learn everything you should know about AC efficiency ratings and the recent minimum SEER rating increase enacted by the federal government.

What Is a SEER Rating?

SEER is short for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is a standard of how easily an air conditioner cools your home — or, to describe it another way, how effectively it removes heat from the indoor air. The SEER rating is determined by dividing the cooling output of an AC unit by the electric energy it uses across a whole season. Higher SEER ratings suggest 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 took effect in January 2023 to give a more accurate 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 delivers homeowners a more realistic picture of how an AC unit will function once installed in their home. So, you can anticipate SEER2 ratings to be a lower number than SEER ratings, despite the fact that they exhibit the same performance.

What Is the Federal Minimum SEER2 Rating in 2023?

The US Department of Energy (DOE) sets minimum efficiency standards for HVAC 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 minimum efficiency rating increase since 2015, when the necessary minimum ratings were established at 13 SEER in the north and 14 SEER in the south. The DOE called for any new AC systems sold and installed in the U.S. to reach the new minimums. That said, 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 tend to cost more upon purchase than the ones with lower SEER ratings. It is because ACs with better SEER ratings integrate more sophisticated technology and materials to attain higher performance. However, while air conditioners with higher SEER ratings may demand a larger investment, they should save you money in the long run by lowering your utility bills.

Case in point, picture yourself 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 costs more up-front, it could possibly save you 22% on your cooling costs compared to System A. Based on the climate and electricity costs in your town, this could amount to hundreds of dollars in savings over the years ahead, making System B a more economical solution over time.

Why Purchase an AC with a Higher SEER Rating? 

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. Look at the various 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 premium unit can save you significantly on your cooling costs each summer for the life span of the system.
  • Environmental impact: Less energy usage means fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Selecting an AC with a higher SEER rating reduces your home’s carbon impact and adds to a more eco- friendly future.
  • Enhanced comfort: Higher SEER-rated air conditioning systems are more advanced, with specifications such as two-stage compressors and multi-speed fan motors. Not only does this save energy and money, but it improves home comfort and results in quieter, more dependable operation.
  • Higher home value: New, high-efficiency ACs are more desirable to prospective home buyers at resale time than outdated systems with lower ratings. If you’re planning to move, having a high SEER-rated AC system can increase the resale value and give your property an advantage to potential buyers. This gives you yet another way to recoup your original investment in a high-end air conditioner.

Install a New AC Unit Today

Now that you realize what SEER ratings to look for, you might be ready to look for a replacement air conditioner. Turn to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning for some of today’s best HVAC systems. We can help you save on your utility bills for years into the future by installing a reliable AC unit that conform to or exceeds the federal minimum SEER2 rating. We’re so certain you’ll be pleased with our services that we provide 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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