If you intend to upgrade the HVAC unit that’s currently installed in your Ronkonkoma, NY home, among the most important factors that you should consider is the SEER rating. This rating tells you how efficient the unit is and how much money you could save on your energy bills. Understanding what SEER ratings are should help you make an informed decision when it comes time to purchase your next system.

SEER Rating Definition

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) has been around since 2008 and is mainly used to help people determine an HVAC unit’s efficiency. In fact, laws are in place that task HVAC units with having a minimum SEER rating, which makes it easier for homeowners to save money. When an HVAC unit has a high SEER rating, it’s considered to be more efficient than a unit with a lower rating.

Along with allowing you to use less energy, purchasing an HVAC unit with a high SEER rating should assist you in reducing your carbon footprint. If your current air conditioner is at least 10 years old, it may have a SEER rating of around 9-10. In comparison, new HVAC units are required to have a SEER rating of 13-23.

What SEER Ratings Mean for You

When you’re buying an HVAC system, there are several advantages you can gain access to, depending on the SEER rating you select.

Possible Tax Credits

You might be able to claim tax credits if you purchase an HVAC system that comes with a high SEER rating. In the event that you purchase an ENERGY STAR unit with a SEER rating of at least 16, you can claim around 30% of the total project costs for a $600 maximum amount on your next tax return. This tax credit applies to any eligible units that are bought and installed between 2023-2032.

If you’re considering purchasing an HVAC unit and claiming tax credits, there’s a limit on the total credit you’re able to claim for an energy-efficient home improvement. The current limit for efficiency tax credits in a single year is $3,200. This limit is separated into $1,200 for home envelope improvements and $2,000 for heat pumps, water heaters, or biomass stoves. Home envelope improvements include furnaces, central air conditioners, electrical systems, and insulation.

More Consistent Comfort

HVAC units that have high SEER ratings are able to deliver more comfort in your home than systems with lower ratings. High-efficiency units are available as variable-speed or two-stage cooling and heating units. If you select a two-stage unit, the lowest setting on the system allows you to maintain your indoor air temperature without needing to worry about temperature spikes or drops.

A variable-speed system has numerous settings that allow you to fine-tune how hot and cold air are distributed throughout your home. If you’re thinking about picking up a variable-speed system, these units typically come with a SEER rating of at least 20.

If you opt for an HVAC system that has a low SEER rating, it will be a single-stage unit, which means that it always runs at 100% capacity and only comes with one setting. It can be challenging for a single-stage unit to provide consistent heating and cooling in a home.

Lower Energy Costs

While variable-speed and two-stage HVAC units run for a lengthier period of time when compared to single-stage units, their energy costs aren’t as high. Since these units have multiple settings, they can maintain a home’s indoor air temperature without wasting energy. If the unit identifies that the temperature only needs to change slightly, it will turn on at a low setting that doesn’t use much energy.

Current SEER Rating Requirements

Different areas of the country have different SEER rating requirements. The type of system you choose also determines what the minimum SEER rating is. For instance, split-system air conditioners must have a minimum SEER rating of 13. In comparison, packaged air conditioners require a minimum SEER rating of 14.

Over the years, the minimum SEER rating has increased in certain regions. For instance, the minimum SEER rating was raised from 13 to 14 in states that have hot summer climates. Even if you don’t live somewhere with a hot climate, you can benefit from obtaining an HVAC system with a high SEER rating.

Buying an Efficient Unit

If you’re comparing SEER ratings between different HVAC units, there are several factors you should take into account to help you make the right purchase decision. For instance, only look for units that come with an ENERGY STAR label. All of the units that receive this label will have a minimum SEER rating of 14.5. A higher SEER rating means that your monthly energy bills will be lower, which helps you save more money on a long-term basis.

You should also remember that efficiency gets worse over time as a result of debris, dirt, and corrosion buildup. Let’s say that you purchased an HVAC system 12 years ago with a 10 SEER rating. Today, the SEER rating would likely range from seven to eight.

There are several additional factors that can impact HVAC efficiency as well. Along with the SEER rating, you should also consider your ductwork, insulation, and maintenance frequency when identifying if a new unit is needed.

Introduction of SEER2 Ratings

Recently, SEER2 was introduced, which is an upgrade of the standard SEER rating system. SEER2 uses an M1 blower testing procedure to determine unit efficiency. With these new standards in place, the minimum requirements have changed slightly for any newly produced HVAC systems that entered the market starting in 2023. The M1 testing procedure improves the unit’s external static pressure considerably.

The minimum efficiency standards have changed to better reflect new standards put forth by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). These standards are meant to enhance regulatory control and provide more precise testing conditions. The primary difference between the SEER and SEER2 rating systems is the testing parameters. The new regulations were put in place by the DOE to make sure that the test conditions were more similar to the ones that a ducted system would display in a residential setting. Previous testing conditions didn’t account for ductwork.

Now that the SEER2 rating system applies to new units, you’ll notice that the minimum SEER2 rating is 14 for most regions and 15 for the Southwest region. Slight differences are still in place for different types of HVAC systems.

If your current HVAC unit has a relatively low SEER rating and you’re considering replacing it, our team at Cool Power LLC can help you choose and install the right unit. We’ve been in business for nearly 50 years and have the experience to install all types of HVAC systems, which include mini-splits and central air conditioners. Our team can fit these installation services around your schedule. We also offer repair and maintenance services for HVAC systems. Consider requesting our maintenance plans to receive discounts on parts, labor, and service calls. Contact Cool Power LLC today to have your new HVAC unit installed.

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