There’s a lot to consider when purchasing new HVAC equipment for your Gilbert, Arizona home. In addition to making sure that your heater or air conditioner is sized correctly, you also want to verify its efficiency. For quite some time, SEER, or the seasonal energy efficiency ratio of a cooling system, offered the best insight into how well it performed and how much it would ultimately cost to use. However, as of 2023, SEER ratings will be replaced with SEER2 ratings. If you’re currently in the market for a new AC unit or heat pump, it’s important to understand how this change will affect you.
What Is a SEER Rating?
There are multiple ratings that shoppers can use to learn more about the performance and efficiency of their AC units and heat pumps. For instance, BTUs, or British Thermal Units, denote the cooling power of HVAC equipment. EER ratings, or energy efficiency ratios, provide a look at the pure efficiency of a unit by dividing its BTUs by its wattage.
Among the different ratings that consumers have access to, SEER ratings were once considered the most informative. SEER ratings reveal what air conditioners can do over the course of a complete cooling season in conjunction with the amount of energy they require. Highly efficient systems or cooling systems that have high SEER ratings use less energy, cool homes down faster, and allow consumers to maintain comfortable living environments without breaking the bank.
An air conditioner or heat pump‘s SEER is calculated by using its EER rating and accounting for humidity. After all, heat pumps and air conditioners don’t just regulate indoor temperatures; they also expend energy to extract excess moisture. When calculating SEER ratings, EER ratings are taken across a variety of indoor and outdoor conditions and at varying levels of humidity. The result is intended to reflect a unit’s performance when subjected to the many environmental changes that occur during a typical cooling season.
SEER ratings do far more than help consumers save money. In their efforts to reduce energy waste and limit the impact that cooling systems have on the natural environment, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) has established minimum SEER ratings. As such, all air conditioners and heat pumps manufactured and sold in the U.S. before 2023 were legally required to have a minimum SEER rating of 13. In Southwestern states like Arizona, the minimum SEER rating was 14.
What’s the Difference Between SEER and SEER2?
As of January 1, 2023, SEER ratings will no longer be considered the gold standard for measuring the efficiency of air conditioners and heat pumps. The DOE has both raised the required SEER rating and altered the way in which AC systems and heat pumps are tested for efficiency. This new standard is known as the SEER2 rating, or the seasonal energy efficiency ratio 2. Throughout much of the nation, this means that air conditioners must have a minimum rating of 14. In Arizona, the new minimum according to SEER2 standards is 15.
The M1 Testing Procedure
The new SEER2 rating entails more rigorous testing of air conditioners and heat pumps. Thus, not only must this equipment achieve a higher rating, but it must also do so while standing up to greater demand during evaluation. Also known as the M1 testing procedure, evaluation for SEER2 ratings will subject air conditioners and heat pumps to higher levels of external static pressure. These will be raised by a factor of five in an effort to more accurately reflect the conditions that HVAC equipment is subjected to when installed.
The prevailing belief is that SEER ratings, though once thought a sufficient measurement of efficiency, do not reflect the impact of ductwork and other external factors that affect air pressure, air distribution, and air loss among other things. SEER2 testing is designed to account for more of the possible causes of energy loss in real-world conditions.
What Does This Mean for HVAC Systems Currently in Stock?
Arizona homeowners have already seen a number of changes concerning home cooling equipment that are aimed at improving efficiency. For instance, many people are still adjusting to the phaseout of Freon, or R-22 refrigerant, and the introduction of R-401a, or Puron, as the industry standard. However, the change from SEER ratings to SEER2 ratings is bound to be much easier on consumers.
In fact, for consumers, the introduction of SEER2 ratings means that they can look forward to air conditioners that cost less to run and provide more cooling power throughout the entirety of the cooling season. Products that do not meet the higher standards that the DOE has established will soon no longer be offered by HVAC companies, HVAC product manufacturers, or big-box stores. All air conditioners and heat pumps currently on the market have SEER ratings that range between 13 and 15. As this change is implemented, new air conditioners and heat pumps with SEER will only have ratings of 14 or higher.
For companies with air conditioners already in stock that do not comply with SEER2 standards, location means everything. In Arizona, these units must be modified to pass the M1 procedure with a SEER2 rating of 15. Not only will they be more efficient than options with a SEER 13 rating, but their new and improved SEER2 rating will make them more effective in their real-world applications.
How This Change Will Affect Consumers
There’s no need to run out and buy a brand-new air conditioner or heat pump in order to comply with forthcoming changes in SEER rating requirements. However, when you do get ready to upgrade your home cooling equipment, you can look forward to saving more cash over time. New air conditioners will be rated in a way that accounts for all of the most important external factors. As such, they’re assured to offer better performance when installed.
In time, products with SEER ratings of 13 or below will disappear entirely. Although you’ll likely find a number of slightly modified units offered for sale in 2023, most AC and heat pump manufacturers will account for M1 testing in their upcoming product designs. In 2023, buying an air conditioner in Arizona that’s been modified to meet SEER2 standards may present the opportunity for impressive savings. Modified systems that originally had SEER ratings of 14 will be offered at a discounted cost even as they supply the efficiency benefits that come with SEER2 compliance.
What Lies Ahead?
The United States Department of Energy is constantly looking for feasible and easy-to-implement strategies for limiting carbon footprints, lowering consumer costs, and ensuring the production of highly efficient air conditioners. Although the phaseout of R-22 was challenging for many homeowners, the introduction of SEER2 ratings is guaranteed to be far less so. As new innovations in home cooling equipment are made and new standards for efficiency are established, most people can expect impressive savings.
A/C Doctors has been proudly serving the greater Gilbert, Arizona area for more than 20 years. We offer air conditioner and heater installation, maintenance, and repairs. We also provide air handlers, indoor air quality services, and package units. If you’re ready to upgrade your air conditioner and you want to find out more about the new SEER2 guidelines, get in touch with us today.