If you’re looking to purchase an air conditioner for your Hamilton Township, NJ, home or office, there are several factors you will need to consider, including price, the power of the unit, and energy efficiency. SEER ratings can help you make a good decision that will keep you comfortable and not put unnecessary strain on your pocketbook.
What Does SEER Mean?
The HVAC industry defines SEER as the “seasonal energy efficiency ratio.” This ratio quantifies the cooling output of the system over the average of a cooling season, divided by the total energy used. SEER tells you your HVAC unit’s energy expenditure and operating costs throughout the year.
SEER operates on a simple concept: the higher the SEER rating, the less energy your unit uses to achieve the desired cooling. It effectively reflects the unit’s performance when operating at peak efficiency.
What is SEER2?
SEER2 (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio 2) introduces a new energy efficiency standard. Like its forerunner, it calculates the cooling output in BTUs divided by the electrical output measured in watt-hours. A higher SEER2 rating signifies a more effective and efficient air conditioner.
Starting January 1, 2023, the US Department of Energy (DOE) is implementing new test procedures for heat pumps and central air conditioners. One significant deviation between the original SEER and SEER2 has to do with the way units will be tested under the M1 standard. The M1 standard employs a more realistic testing scenario, aligning more closely with actual conditions to give a better representation of an air conditioner’s energy efficiency. Unlike previous testing, which was conducted under ideal conditions, M1 provides a more accurate reflection of what a person should expect during the operation of an air conditioner.
For instance, the original SEER testing procedures did not adequately consider factors such as ductwork or the static pressure exerted on HVAC systems in real-life environments. This discrepancy means that the results obtained in a controlled environment were misleading and did not accurately depict what an HVAC unit would face when situated in the furnace room of a home.
How Does SEER2 Affect Customers and Homeowners?
If your HVAC system was installed before January 2023, you’re not going to be affected at all. Only systems that are installed after January 2023 will need to meet the new SEER2 standards. As of January 1, 2023, the minimum federal SEER will rise by one point for all regions. This means that to meet the requirements of the Southwest region, a central air conditioner in a residential setting that has an output of lower than 45,000 BTUs (British Thermal Unit) will need to have a SEER2 rating of 14.3. This is the equivalent of a 15.0 rating with the previous SEER standards. Residential systems that have an output of higher than 45,000 BTUs must have a SEER2 rating of 13.8, the equivalent of 14.5 under the previous system. Additionally, all heat pumps must meet the 14.3 SEER2 standard, the equivalent of 15.0 under the previous SEER.
As of 2023, AC manufacturers will need to re-rate the equipment that they sell. Many manufacturers have begun manufacturing equipment to meet the SEER2 ratings. This will likely mean an increase in the price of air-conditioners and heat pumps for 2023.
In the lead-up to January 1, 2023, some homebuilders started to purchase HVAC equipment in bulk so as to avoid the cost spike. This has led to some shortages in the industry for builders who were not prepared for this change.
There are several benefits that come with installing an HVAC system that has a higher efficiency rating. For example, higher energy efficiency minimizes the energy you waste. This leads to potential savings on your HVAC costs. HVAC units that have higher efficiencies last longer because they don’t have to work as hard to bring the space they are treating to the desired temperatures.
SEER Regulations by Region
In the Southwest region, AC units cannot be sold or installed after January 1, 2023, if they do not meet the SEER2 requirements. For systems below 45,000 BTUs, a SEER2 rating of 14.3 is mandatory. Residential air-conditioners above 45,000 BTUs must have a rating of at least 13.8. All heat pumps must meet a minimum SEER rating of 15.
In the North Region, HVAC equipment built prior to January 1, 2023, can still be installed and sold. However, all HVAC equipment manufactured after the January 1, 2023, deadline must adhere to SEER2 regulations. This requires residential air conditioning systems to have an SEER2 rating of at least 13.4, and heat pumps must have a rating of at least 15.
In the Southeast region, it is against regulations to sell or install an HVAC system after the January 1, 2023, deadline that does not meet SEER2 standards. For air conditioners with a power output of under 45,000 BTUs, a SEER2 rating of at least 14.3 is necessary. Those over 45,000 BTUs must have an SEER2 rating of 13.8 or higher. All heat pumps must have a rating of at least 15.
Nationwide, the DOE’s analysis suggests that these new standards for heat pumps and air conditioners will result in significant benefits. The lifetime savings, assuming compliance with these standards, amount to three quadrillion BTUs over 30 years, which is approximately two percent of energy consumption. It is estimated that between 2023 and 2052, customers will save billions of dollars in energy expenses by switching to air conditioners that meet the SEER2 standards.
To make these benefits more accessible, the DOE has introduced new labels for home appliances. These yellow Energy Guide stickers provide information on SEER2, EER2, and HSPF2 ratings, helping consumers understand the advantages of complying with SEER2 guidelines.
Why Does SEER Rating Matter?
Air conditioners built in the early 2000s had SEER ratings ranging from eight to 10. Replacing a unit that is one or two decades old could significantly reduce up to 40% in energy costs for homeowners each year. Due to increased government standards for efficiency, manufacturers have responded by creating a variety of models that operate at different efficiency levels and are priced to accommodate individuals with varying economic statuses.
Improved SEER ratings not only enhance energy efficiency but also translate to greater indoor comfort for homeowners, especially in areas like the South East and Southwest. Modern air conditioners often feature two-stage or variable-speed compressors, providing precisely the right amount of cooling needed in the home.
Moreover, enhanced SEER ratings offer homeowners an easy way to reduce their environmental impact. Besides consuming less energy, some newer AC models use safe refrigerants, allowing homeowners to contribute to creating a better environment for future generations.
Providing Heating and Cooling Services in Central New Jersey
At Conway Comfort Heating & Cooling, we pride ourselves on being an experienced, dependable HVAC company. We have been keeping homes comfortable since 2021 and are focused on exceeding your expectations. We proudly employ NATE-certified technicians. We have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and are Home Advisor screened and approved. Look here for other frequently asked questions!
Our services include HVAC installation, repair, and maintenance. We offer indoor air quality testing, humidifiers, duct cleaning, air purification, air scrubbers, and thermostats. Turn to our Conway Comfort maintenance program! Contact Conway Comfort Heating & Cooling today and see why Central New Jersey residents turn to us to keep their homes comfortable.