What Does SEER Rating Mean?

SEER Rating Basics

Ready for a new air conditioner? Find out what SEER stands for first and what it means for your next AC system.

When it comes to shopping for a new air conditioning system, things can get a bit confusing. For instance, you might be wondering what “SEER” means and how it’ll affect your next AC system purchase. Here’s a quick look at SEER and how it can help you choose the most efficient AC system for your home.

The Basics of SEER

SEER is shorthand for “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating,” a standard developed by the U.S. Department of Energy and used throughout the HVAC world to measure and rate the energy efficiency of split air conditioning systems and heat pumps. In a nutshell, SEER lets homeowners compare AC systems and decide which one offers better energy efficiency.

Here’s one important thing to know about SEER: the higher the rating, the more efficient the system. All split AC systems currently on the market have a minimum SEER of 13. Most high-efficiency units boast SEER ratings in the high twenties, with some heat pumps rated beyond that.

Upcoming Changes to SEER

A new year is also bringing new changes to the SEER standard. Effective January 1, 2023, all new AC systems will follow the updated SEER2 standard. This boosts the minimum rating for split AC systems sold in the North region of the U.S. with less than 45,000 BTUs to 14.3 or higher. Units with a capacity at or above 45,000 BTUs must have a minimum SEER2 rating of 13.4 or higher.

Meanwhile, units sold in the South and Southwest regions must meet SEER2 ratings of 14.3 for systems with a capacity of less than 45,000 BTUs and 13.8 for systems with more than 45,000 BTUs of cooling capacity. SEER2 ratings for these regions are a bit higher due to the hotter climate, which means South and Southwest homeowners will benefit from the increased efficiency.

The change also impacts heat pumps, which must have a SEER2 rating of 14.3 or higher no matter where they’re sold in the U.S. In the end, you’ll enjoy lower energy bills and a greater level of comfort. You may also find split AC systems with a slightly higher price tag as a result, but the increased upfront cost comes with bigger savings further down the line.

SEER is just one of the ways you can research your next AC purchase and rest easier knowing you’ve chosen the right system for your home.