SEER Ratings Guide

If you’re shopping for a new air conditioning system, you may have encountered the term “SEER rating.” What exactly does this rating mean, and why is it important? Use this SEER rating guide to educate yourself on everything you ought to know regarding AC efficiency ratings and the latest minimum SEER rating increase enacted by the federal government.

Defines a SEER Rating?

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is a measurement of how well an air conditioner cools your home — or, to describe it another way, how effectively the equipment removes heat from the indoor air. The SEER rating is scored by dividing the cooling output of an AC unit by the electric energy it uses over a whole season. Higher SEER ratings signify a more energy-efficient air conditioning system.

What Is SEER2?

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

Unlike the last SEER rating system, which only takes into account an air conditioner’s energy efficiency in laboratory environments, the SEER2 metric offers homeowners a more accurate picture of how an AC unit will perform once setup in their home. For this reason, you can expect SEER2 ratings to be a lower number than SEER ratings, despite the fact that they exhibit the same performance.

What Is the Federal Minimum SEER2 Rating in 2023?

The US Department of Energy (DOE) determines minimum efficiency specifications for cooling systems. In 2023, the minimum SEER ratings for central air conditioners increased 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 necessary minimum ratings were set to 13 SEER in the north and 14 SEER in the south. The DOE demands any new AC systems marketed and installed in America to reach the new minimums. That said, homeowners with less efficient air conditioners are not mandated to upgrade to the more efficient models.

How Do SEER Ratings Impact AC Costs?

Air conditioners with higher SEER ratings generally cost more up-front than those with lower SEER ratings. It is because ACs with higher SEER ratings incorporate more sophisticated technology and materials to obtain higher performance. While air conditioners with higher SEER ratings may demand a larger investment, they often save you money over the long haul by lowering your utility bills.

Case in point, let’s say you’re comparing two central air conditioners. System A has a SEER rating of 14 and costs $3,000, and System B has a SEER rating of 18 and costs $4,000. While System B costs more up-front, it could possibly save you 22% on your cooling costs compared to System A. Depending on the climate and electricity costs in your area, this could perhaps equate to hundreds of dollars in financial savings over the life of the system, making System B a more affordable choice in the long run.

Why Buy an AC with a Higher SEER Rating? 

You don’t have to settle for the minimum SEER rating in your area, not when today’s most efficient systems are rated 26 SEER or higher. Consider the many benefits of investing in such a high-end system:

  • Energy savings: As previously mentioned, ACs with higher SEER ratings are more energy efficient. By consuming less energy to get the identical cooling output, a superior unit can help you save considerably on your cooling bills every single summer for the life span of the system.
  • Environmental impact: Less energy usage ensures fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Selecting an AC with a higher SEER rating reduces your home’s carbon impact and contributes to a more sustainable future.
  • Enhanced comfort: Higher SEER-rated cooling systems are more advanced, with specifications such as two-stage compressors and multi-speed fan motors. Not only does this save energy and money, but it improves home comfort resulting in quieter, more reliable operation.
  • Increased home value: New, high-efficiency ACs are more appealing to prospective home buyers at resale time than aged systems with lower ratings. When it’s time to move, having a high SEER-rated AC system can enhance the resale value and make your home more attractive to potential buyers. This gives you yet another way to recoup your initial investment in a high-end air conditioner.

Install a New AC Unit Soon

Now that you realize what SEER ratings to consider, you may be ready to shop for a replacement air conditioner. Turn to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning for access to some of today’s best HVAC systems. You can save on your utility bills for years to come by installing an effective AC unit that meets or exceeds the federal minimum SEER2 rating. We’re so certain you’ll be thrilled with our services that we provide a 100% satisfaction guarantee! To find out more or to schedule a free AC installation estimate, please contact 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