SEER Ratings Guide

As you shop for a new AC system, you probably have encountered the term “SEER rating.” But what does a SEER rating measure and why does that matter? Use this SEER rating guide to discover everything you need to know regarding AC efficiency ratings and the new minimum SEER rating increase mandated by the federal government.

Defines a SEER Rating?

SEER is short for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is a measurement of how efficiently an air conditioner cools your home — or, to be more precise, how effectively the equipment removes heat from the indoor air. The SEER rating is scored by dividing the cooling output of an AC unit by the electric energy it consumes throughout 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 factors real-world usage patterns and area climate data. This new metric commenced in January 2023 to provide a more precise representation of an AC system’s energy efficiency.

Contrary to the former SEER rating system, which only factors in an air conditioner’s energy efficiency in controlled conditions, the SEER2 metric delivers homeowners a more authentic picture of how an air conditioner will operate once setup in their home. So, you can expect SEER2 ratings to be a lower figure than SEER ratings, although they represent the same performance.

What Is the Federal Minimum SEER2 Rating in 2023?

The US Department of Energy (DOE) establishes minimum efficiency requirements for HVAC 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 established at 13 SEER in the north and 14 SEER in the south. The DOE requires any new AC systems marketed and installed in America to reach 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?

Cooling systems with higher SEER ratings generally cost more upon purchase than those with lower SEER ratings. It is because ACs with greater SEER ratings utilize more innovative technology and materials to obtain 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.

For example, imagine comparing two 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 could possibly save you 22% on your cooling costs when put next to System A. Depending on the climate and electricity costs in your town, this could equate to hundreds of dollars in savings over the life of the system, making System B a more cost-effective choice long term.

Why Purchase 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 today’s most efficient systems are rated 26 SEER or higher. Consider the numerous benefits of spending your money on such a high-end system:

  • Energy savings: As described previously, ACs with higher SEER ratings are a great deal more energy efficient. By consuming less energy to accomplish the equivalent cooling output, a high-end unit can save you substantially on your cooling costs each summer for the life expectancy of the system.
  • Environmental impact: Decreased energy consumption translates to fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Opting for an AC with a higher SEER rating reduces your home’s carbon footprint and adds to a more eco- friendly future.
  • Better comfort: Higher SEER-rated air conditioning systems are more sophisticated, with features such as two-stage compressors and multi-speed fan motors. Not only does this save energy and money, but it improves home comfort which leads to a quieter, more effective operation.
  • Increased home value: New, high-efficiency ACs are more enticing to prospective home buyers at resale time than outdated systems with lower ratings. When it’s time to move, having a high SEER-rated AC system can raise the resale value and offer a compelling differentiator to potential buyers. This gives you yet another way to get back your original investment in a high-end air conditioner.

Install a New AC Unit Today

Now that you understand what SEER ratings to seek out, 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 can reduce your electricity or fuel bills for years into the future by installing a reliable AC unit that meets or exceeds the federal minimum SEER2 rating. We’re so confident you’ll be thrilled with our services that we offer you a 100% satisfaction guarantee! To learn more or to arrange a free AC installation estimate, please reach out to a Service Experts office near you.

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