SEER Ratings Guide

As you do research for your next air conditioner, you may have stumbled on the term “SEER rating.” What exactly does this rating mean, and why is it important? Use this SEER rating guide to discover everything you ought to know regarding AC efficiency ratings and the recent minimum SEER rating increase passed by the federal government.

What Is a SEER Rating?

SEER is an acronym for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is a measure of how easily an air conditioner cools your home — or, more accurately, how successfully the equipment removes heat from the indoor air. The SEER rating is scored by dividing the cooling output of an air conditioner by the electricity it needs throughout an entire season. Higher SEER ratings signify a more energy-efficient air conditioning system.

What Is SEER2?

SEER2 is the recently updated SEER rating system that accounts for real-world consumption patterns and local climate data. This new metric came into effect in January 2023 to give a better depiction of an AC system’s energy efficiency.

Unlike the previous SEER rating system, which only takes into account an air conditioner’s energy efficiency in controlled environments, the SEER2 metric delivers homeowners a more accurate picture of how an air conditioner will perform once setup in their home. As a result, you can expect SEER2 ratings to be a lower figure than SEER ratings, despite the fact that they represent the same performance.

What Is the Federal Minimum SEER2 Rating in 2023?

The US Department of Energy (DOE) sets minimum efficiency standards 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 efficiency rating change since 2015, when the required minimum ratings were established at 13 SEER in the north and 14 SEER in the south. The DOE called for any new AC systems bought and installed in America to meet the new minimums. However, homeowners with lower efficiency air conditioners are not required to replace them.

How Do SEER Ratings Affect AC Expenditures?

Cooling systems with higher SEER ratings have a tendency to cost more initially than units with lower SEER ratings. This is because ACs with better SEER ratings integrate more innovative technology and materials to achieve higher performance. However, while air conditioners with higher SEER ratings may involve a larger investment, they often save you money ultimately by lowering your energy bills.

Case in point, picture yourself comparing a pair of central air conditioners. System A has a SEER rating of 14 and costs $3,000, but System B has a SEER rating of 18 and costs $4,000. While System B is more expensive up-front, it can save you 22% on your energy costs when put next to System A. Contingent on the climate and electricity costs where you live, this can potentially equate to hundreds of dollars in savings over the years ahead, making System B a more economical option in the long run.

Why Pick an AC with a Higher SEER Rating? 

Times have changed, and homeowners are not stuck settling for the minimum SEER rating in your state, not when the current AC units are rated 26 SEER or higher. Consider the many benefits of purchasing such a high-end system:

  • Energy savings: As described previously, ACs with higher SEER ratings are considerably more energy efficient. By using less energy to get the same cooling output, a top-quality unit can save you significantly on your cooling bills each summer for the life expectancy of the system.
  • Environmental impact: Less energy consumption will mean fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Picking out an AC with a higher SEER rating cuts down your home’s carbon impact and leads to a more sustainable future.
  • Better comfort: Higher SEER-rated cooling 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 boosts home comfort and results in quieter, more reliable operation.
  • Top home value: New, high-efficiency ACs are more desirable to buyers when you decide to sell your home than old systems with lower ratings. When it’s time to move, having a high SEER-rated AC system can improve the resale value and offer a compelling differentiator to potential buyers. This gives you yet another way to recover your early investment in a high-end air conditioner.

Install a New AC Unit Now

Now that you realize what SEER ratings to look for, you may be ready to shop for a replacement air conditioner. Turn to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning for a review of today’s best HVAC systems. You’ll conserve your utility bills for years to come by installing a reliable AC unit that meets or exceeds the federal minimum SEER2 rating. We’re so confident you’ll be pleased with our services that we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee! For more information or to schedule a free AC installation estimate, please reach out to a Service Experts office near you.

Savings For You

See All Offers Here >


  • Save $50 on a Paid Service
  • Written 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
  • Plus, ask how to save an additional 15% and waive your trip charge!


  • Upgrade to Worry-Free Comfort with the Advantage Program and make NO payments for 30 days!

© 2024 Service Experts, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, and the Service Experts logo and design are registered trademarks of Service Experts LLC and used under license by SE Canada Inc. All Rights Reserved. *Not applicable to the Advantage Program. See your signed Advantage Program Agreement for full details and exclusions. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee is subject to certain restrictions and limitations as set forth in the applicable Terms and Conditions.

Chat with a Service Experts Professional