In summer, keeping your home in Roseville, CA, cool probably costs you quite a bit. Even with an efficient and incredibly well-maintained air conditioner, energy bills can soar. Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is always working hard to improve efficiency standards. In fact, as of January 1, 2023, all newly installed air conditioners must have updated SEER2 certification. Although similar to the SEER certification that AC models currently have, this new standard for AC efficiency is significantly more stringent. Keep reading to find out more.
What SEER Is and Why SEER2 Is Different
Established in 1992 when President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act, SEER ratings set the standard for minimum efficiency requirements. Short for seasonal energy efficiency ratio, SEER is a measurement of a central air conditioner’s capacity in normal operating conditions divided by the amount of energy that it uses over a set period of time. By this early standard, all air conditioners sold and installed within the State of California were required to have a minimum SEER rating of 14.
SEER ratings were determined by M1 testing. This test measured the performance of air conditioners in a controlled setting. However, it did not account for many of the environmental factors that AC units are subject to when installed in homes. Connecting an air conditioner to HVAC ductwork and using it as part of a complex, central HVAC system exposes it to forces that were not present during the review process.
Upon recognizing the absence of normal AC stress, the DOE opted to implement an updated version of the M1 test. This update brought about SEER2 ratings, and it set a significantly higher standard for AC equipment manufacturers. Not only are air conditioners required to earn higher minimum efficiency ratings, but they must do so by passing an assessment that subjects them to similar forces experienced in real-world applications. For Californians, minimum SEER2 ratings have risen from the SEER rating of 14 to 14.3. Moreover, given the higher performance requirements of the enhanced M1 test, this 14.3 rating is actually the equivalent of a SEER 15 rating.
Is It Necessary to Have Your Air Conditioner Changed Out Right Away?
The switch from SEER to SEER2 ratings doesn’t put any pressure on homeowners to immediately upgrade their home cooling equipment. Instead, it holds AC manufacturers accountable for producing more efficient designs than they did in the past. By the current standard, air conditioners with a SEER rating of 14 will no longer be available. Thus, even if you purchase a replacement air conditioner with the lowest SEER2 rating you can find, its overall performance will likely be noticeably improved.
What About Air Conditioners That Still Have SEER Ratings?
In recent years, California residents saw the HVAC industry undergo the significant change of switching from R-22 refrigerant to R401-a. Although this transition is being implemented in small, easy-to-manage stages, there are still people who continue to cling to their R-22 air conditioners. There are even companies that continue to sell them, and companies that continue to offer R-22 recharge services. However, this won’t be the case with SEER2 ratings.
The transition to the new SEER2 standard is in full effect as of January 1, 2023. Any existing inventories of AC units with SEER ratings must receive SEER2 certification or undergo any essential upgrades for achieving increased efficiency. Home and hardware stores cannot lawfully sell air conditioners that lack SEER2 ratings, and HVAC companies cannot lawfully sell and install them.
Fortunately, a number of popular air conditioners are able to meet these new standards without modification. Other models require slight changes in their basic designs to meet California requirements. Given that both SEER ratings and SEER2 ratings are regional, it is also possible for California companies to offload their existing inventories in regions with lower requirements for SEER2 ratings.
Why Did the DOE Switch From SEER to SEER2?
California is currently leading the nation in sustainability efforts. Many cities and counties throughout California have already implemented their own bans on the installation of gas-fired water heaters and boilers. The State of California has also followed suit by banning gas-fired furnace and water heater models as of 2030. However, the U.S. Department of Energy is just as eager to address the climate crisis by lowering collective carbon footprints and pushing HVAC manufacturers to arrive at more sustainable equipment designs.
The testing for SEER ratings was flawed. Although SEER was an effective tool for determining how well air conditioners converted energy into cold air, it wasn’t effective for gauging their performance when actively being used by consumers. HVAC air ducts are the greatest contributor to energy waste, air loss, and other performance-related issues. Making sure that AC units can perform well when installed is the primary goal of SEER 2. By upgrading the efficiency requirements based on new knowledge and new testing methods, the DOE can ultimately achieve remarkable reductions in the collective carbon footprint of the nation.
Shopping for an Air Conditioner With SEER2 Ratings
When shopping for air conditioners, it’s important to look for models that have their SEER2 certification. As of 2023, SEER or SEER1 certification is considered an obsolete standard. The best way to ensure that you’re getting an air conditioner that’s on par with the very latest regulations is by working with a reputable HVAC company.
We offer high-quality heating and cooling equipment. More importantly, all of our products meet or exceed the minimum efficiency requirements established by the DOE. Best of all, you can count on us to act as your partners in sustainability by keeping you abreast of important industry updates and by explaining the benefits of the latest regulatory changes. Working with a trusted HVAC company to manage, maintain, and update home heating and cooling equipment is becoming increasingly important for California residents given the growing number of efficiency-related changes that are being made.
Getting Ready for Your Next AC Upgrade
Given the more stringent requirements for air conditioner efficiency, homeowners can expect to see a slight increase in air conditioner prices going forward. However, this is largely due to the fact that many low-quality and low-efficiency models will be leaving the scene. With SEER ratings of 15 and SEER2 ratings of 14.3 becoming the absolute minimum, some air conditioners simply aren’t up to the task. Fortunately, with advanced awareness of this major industry change, prudent homeowners can start planning for future AC replacements early on.
It’s also important to note that although AC units with acceptably high SEER2 ratings might cost a bit more upfront, they’ll also cost a lot less to run. SEER2 testing and higher SEER2 ratings mean that new air conditioners will use less energy to cool homes down even when accounting for static pressure and other stress that HVAC air ducts apply.
We’re proud to be an industry leader in sustainable heating and cooling. We offer heater and air conditioner installation, maintenance, and repair services. We also provide HVAC System inspections, advanced indoor air quality solutions, home zoning, home insulation, and home automation. To find out more about the new SEER2 standard or to schedule AC service, get in touch with Environmental Heating & Air Solutions today!