SEER, an acronym for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, is a measure used to determine the seasonal energy efficiency of air conditioners and heat pumps. Specifically, SEER measures how efficiently a cooling system operates throughout a typical summer season. It takes the average cooling output of the system during various weather conditions over one season and divides it by the total amount of energy consumed during that same period.
Across the country, most central residential HVAC systems must have at least a 14.5 SEER rating. Industry innovation has continued to drive the release of products with higher and higher SEER ratings climbing up to 20+. Fujitsu and Mitsubishi offer the most energy-efficient heat pumps, with the SEER ratings of over 33. Air conditioning units built 10-15 years ago had an average SEER rating between 8 and 10 (found on the EnergyGuide sticker on the outdoor unit or a paper attached to the inside unit, or embedded as part of the model number).
This increased efficiency can drive utility savings for consumers over time when implemented well.
How is SEER rating calculated?
SEER ratings are a measure of cooling output divided by its electric energy input during a typical cooling season. The higher the cooling output figure, the more efficient the air conditioner is. For example, if an air conditioner produces 4,500,000 BTUs of cooling every season while consuming 250,000 kW of electricity, its SEER is 18 (4,500,000/250,000 = 18).
SEER testing to determine energy efficiency takes place in a laboratory setting that simulates indoor and outdoor conditions as they might be experienced in real life. To account for natural differences between outdoor and indoor temperatures during hotter months when an AC would be cranking to keep a space cool inside, the outdoor temperature used for the simulation is just slightly warmer than indoors — typically two degrees higher or less. This standardized environment allows for consistent and accurate results from test to test so that comparative performance can be accurately measured and recorded as a SEER rating metric from one model/manufacturer to another.
Why SEER rating matters
Investing in higher-efficiency units with high SEER ratings can save homeowners money over time on both electricity bills and maintenance costs. It also future-proofs the equipment in their homes. The higher a unit’s SEER value, the more efficient it is. This is one of many reasons that regulations around SEER ratings have changed over time.
SEER vs. SEER2
In 2023, the SEER rating system was updated with a new system known as SEER2, which is intended to reflect more accurately the external conditions of where HVAC units are installed.
SEER2 takes into account regional climate factors such as humidity and temperature changes to provide a more comprehensive measurement of energy efficiency. In mild climates without humidity concerns, a lower SEER2 unit can save on installation costs. However, in humid climates, a higher-efficiency heat pump that dehumidifies indoor air better than standard models may provide more comfort as it spends more time dehumidifying the air while using less energy.
To conform to these new standards, all new residential split-system ACs, single-package ACs, and split-system and packaged heat pumps in the United States must meet a minimum SEER rating requirement of 14 in the northern regions of the country, or 15 SEER or 14.3 SEER2 in the South. This updated system aims to ensure that consumers get better value and improved performance from their HVAC units when it comes to details such as electricity bills and cost savings.
How the new SEER2 regulations affect HVAC contractors
The new SEER2 standards emphasize higher energy efficiency and consider various factors such as system design, part-load performance, and the impact of regional climate conditions. Contractors will need to stay informed about these changes, update their product offerings, and ensure proper installation and maintenance practices to meet the evolving efficiency standards and deliver optimal comfort to their customers.
Familiarity with the updated SEER2 regulations will be essential for HVAC contractors to provide the most efficient and compliant solutions to their clients and remain competitive in the market.
Offer energy-efficient HVAC solutions with Conduit Tech
In light of the updated SEER2 regulations and the increasing importance of energy efficiency in HVAC, it’s important that HVAC contractors stay informed and adapt to these changes.
By partnering with Conduit Tech, a leader in designing and selling high-efficiency HVAC systems, contractors can access the latest technology and guidance to meet the new standards. Contact us today or schedule a demo to find out how we can support your business.