SEER shmear —  not again!

Taking Care of Business

Yes again, folks! Remember SEER? SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or sometimes called Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. It is the ratio of the cooling output of an air conditioner over a typical cooling season, divided by the energy it uses in Watt-Hours. So, basically, it is miles per gallon for your air conditioner. The higher the SEER rating, the less it costs to operate. In an effort to improve and increase efficiencies for your home comfort systems, the Department of Energy (DOE) is changing the way HVAC systems are tested, and effective January 1, 2023, SEER2 will be introduced.

What is SEER2? SEER2 stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ration 2. Specifically, SEER2 is the total heat removed from a conditioned space during the annual cooling season. A new M1 testing procedure will increase systems’ external static pressure (the measurement of all the resistance in the duct system that the blower has to work against…Zzzzzzz) by a factor of five to better reflect field conditions of installed equipment. Current SEER testing does not take into account the influence of a duct system on HVAC systems. The new SEER2 does and will. What does that really mean? That means that regardless of what SEER system you may currently have, you may not be getting its full potential based on the condition and size of your ductwork. To get the proper SEER or SEER2 you’re investing in, the system needs to be evaluated as a whole.

Sorry for the confusion, folks! What does this mean to you when looking to upgrade your current AC or heat pump system? To meet SEER2 requirements in our region, residential AC systems below 45,000 Btu (3.5 tons basically) must have a SEER2 rating of 14.3 (15.0 SEER). Residential AC systems 45,000 Btu and above (4 and 5 tons) must have a SEER rating of 13.8 (14.5 SEER). In addition, heat pumps must meet 14.3 SEER2 (15.0 SEER) and 7.5 HSPF2 (8.8 HSPF). HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) is like miles per gallon for your heat pump. The higher the HSPF, the less it costs to operate. Bottom line: the DOE is raising the minimum HVAC efficiencies again. With these new standards, SEER2 should provide more accurate measurements that simulate real-world energy usage while helping reduce overall energy consumption.

With the introduction of SEER2, technicians must not only learn about the new required refrigerants, they must also understand the rating differences between the new units that manufacturers are starting to create to become compliant. Some contractors are not aware of this change in the market, so when evaluating a home comfort provider, be certain that they are SEER2 compliant and their employees are properly trained in the new technologies and testing procedures. 

As of January 1, 2023, this is not optional for HVAC contractors. There may be a slight uptick in the cost of units. Because SEER2 standardizes measuring energy efficiency and the materials used in a unit, some manufacturers will have to update their manufacturing and testing processes. These small price increases will be worth the investment because the units will be more energy-efficient.

Existing homeowners with older units are not affected by the new SEER2 requirements. Because the unit has already been sold and installed, there’s no need for it to be compliant with SEER2. For new homes and homeowners looking to upgrade their HVAC to a newer model, there should be a measurable increase in energy efficiency with your new unit. The new unit will be able to keep your home at a comfortable temperature while requiring significantly less energy than your older unit. 

The improved efficiency translates directly to a lower energy bill. If you’re planning to buy a unit before January 1, 2023, we recommend purchasing one that’s SEER2 compliant. While these units can be a bit more of an investment upfront, they provide significant long-term efficiency savings and lower carbon emissions.

So goodbye SEER and good riddance! Bring on the new efficiencies and energy savings with SEER2 (Shmear2)! Contact a HVAC professional who can answer your questions and guide you in purchasing the most cost-effective units. 

About John Kennedy 11 Articles
John Kennedy is general manager of Art Newsome, Inc. and can be reached at 873-0345 or by email at jkennedy@artnewsomeinc.com.