When shopping for new HVAC units, SEER ratings are one of the most frequently used calculations. This measurement lets you quickly determine whether a unit is efficient. However, a lot’s changed since the SEER measurement was developed. More and more HVAC companies are switching to SEER2. How does this new efficiency rating work? Here’s what you need to know.
What Does SEER2 Mean?
SEER2 is short for “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio 2.” It is a type of rating system that measures a machine’s ability to cool a home. The SEER system was developed to meet homeowners’ needs for accurate efficiency testing. Unlike other testing methods that just run a machine nonstop, SEER2 looks at how a machine performs over an average cooling season. It calculates how weather variables and a unit turning on and off will impact efficiency.
SEER2 is a relatively new set of measurements that updates the previous SEER rating. It was first created in 2016 and slowly became an industry standard. Starting in 2023, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) required all manufacturers to include SEER2 ratings on their equipment. These new standards will affect the types of machines homeowners buy, and they may eventually encourage manufacturers to create even more efficient models.
SEER2 ratings usually vary from around 13 to 24. A higher SEER rating is usually better because it means that a machine is more efficient. The higher the SEER rating, the less energy you need to cool your house to a comfortable level. SEER2 ratings apply to any type of system that cools a property; this includes central air conditioners, ductless mini splits, and heat pumps.
SEER2 vs. SEER vs. EER
There are a lot of efficiency ratings similar to SEER2, so it’s understandable to be confused. The main thing you need to know is simply that SEER2 is the newer, stricter version of SEER. It works roughly the same way as SEER, but it involves harsher conditions and requires HVAC units to be more efficient.
SEER2 ratings start with the same calculations as SEER. Both measurements are calculated by dividing the cooling BTU per hour output by the input wattage for three months. The main difference is that SEER2 is calculated in harsher testing conditions. Over the course of the test, HVAC units are run for set periods of time at specific load sizes. There was some concern that the test conditions for SEER were too idealistic. Therefore, SEER2 increases the external static pressure. This essentially means that the exterior conditions are a little rougher and better mimics the natural environment that an HVAC unit works in.
During a SEER2 test, the blower motor has to push against air that is five times as pressured as it was during the SEER test. Since this makes the HVAC unit work harder, the resulting rating is automatically lower. Exact conversions from SEER to SEER2 depend on the performance of the individual machine. However, on average, a SEER2 rating is roughly 4.5 percent lower than the SEER rating would be.
Though SEER and SEER2 are very similar, keep in mind that they’re both very different from EER. EER, which is short for Energy Efficiency Ratio, is an energy efficiency ratio that just divides an air conditioner’s maximum BTU cooling capacity by its maximum cooling wattage. This test only looks at how a machine performs while running steadily at a solid temperature. Though it’s helpful for roughly estimating which unit is more efficient, it doesn’t give a complete picture of how any cooling system will run in real-world environments.
Exploring the New SEER2 Guidelines
Why are SEER2 ratings so important anyways? One of the big reasons is simply that the DOE has rules about minimum SEER requirements. To help avoid wasted energy, the DOE requires manufacturers to only sell models that meet a minimum SEER ranking. As of 2023, they are both introducing SEER2 and increasing the minimum SEER requirements.
These rules vary a little depending on where you are. Northeastern residents have a lower SEER minimum while Southwestern residents with higher cooling needs have a higher SEER minimum. In Nevada, the minimum SEER rating for 2023 will be 15. This translates to a minimum SEER2 rating of 14.3.
Updated SEER2 guidelines don’t affect the HVAC systems that are already installed. No government official is going to come out and start fining you for having a unit with a 14 SEER2 rating. However, it will affect the types of HVAC units that are for sale. When you go shopping for a new system, you will notice that all units for sale in Nevada will have at least a 14.3 SEER2 rating. Furthermore, the new ratings might affect the types of models available for sale in the future. Since SEER2 ratings highlight systems that run less efficiently in realistic conditions, manufacturers may start producing higher-efficiency models to appeal to customers.
What SEER2 Rating Do You Need?
Now that you know all the basics of SEER2 ratings, it’s time to consider how these ratings can impact your home. The best SEER2 for your HVAC system usually depends on your budget and your priorities. When it comes to SEER2 ratings, 14 to 15 is usually good, 16 to 19 is better, and 20 to 25 is best.
A higher SEER2 rating means that it costs less energy to run your HVAC system. This efficiency can be very useful because it results in big savings for you. The standard 1-ton unit with a 14 SEER2 rating costs around $113 to run per year, while a 1-ton unit with a 19 SEER2 rating costs $83 to run per year. Over the lifespan of your HVAC system, a high-SEER2 unit can save you hundreds of dollars. Another advantage of these energy savings is that high-SEER2 units are more eco-friendly. If you’re concerned about reducing energy consumption and living a green lifestyle, you need an efficient HVAC system.
With all the perks of a high SEER2 rating, your first instinct might be to just buy the highest SEER2 machine you can find. However, keep in mind that a higher SEER2 rating comes with a higher price tag. You usually have to pay extra for really efficient machines. Extremely high-performance, ultra-efficient HVAC systems can cost thousands of extra dollars. At a certain point, the higher price tag tends to offset the yearly savings you get on energy costs.
For most homeowners, picking a SEER2 rating will involve looking at the price tag for individual machines and then comparing that to estimated annual operating costs. People usually prefer to pick the highest SEER2 rating that still provides them with some savings on utility bills. However, if you want a green home, it might be worth paying a little extra for an ultra-efficient model.
If you have any other questions about efficiency ratings, BEST Air Conditioning Plumbing Repair is happy to answer them. Our team prioritizes giving customers the information they need to make their own decisions. In addition to helping with HVAC installations, we also provide Las Vegas residents with a variety of other HVAC and plumbing services. To schedule your appointment, give us a call today.