Among the most important things to look for when choosing an air conditioner for your Margate, FL home is a high level of efficiency. All air conditioners sold throughout North America are assigned seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) ratings. SEER ratings measure the total cooling output of air conditioners over an entire cooling season divided by the amount of energy consumed over this same period. They determine how well ACs convert electric energy into cooling power and how much homeowners will pay to use them.
Why SEER Ratings Matter
SEER ratings were introduced in 1992 as part of the Energy Policy Act. Although they’re certainly handy for consumers, they serve as guidelines for AC equipment manufacturers. As mandated by the United States Department of Energy (DOE), the legal minimum for SEER ratings is 14. This ensures that companies aren’t producing low-performing equipment that costs a veritable fortune to use and takes a tremendous toll on the natural environment.
Purchasing an AC with a SEER rating of 14 will put your home’s cooling system on par with regulatory standards, but it won’t necessarily give you great value. In areas like Margate with nearly year-round cooling demand, you’ll want a higher-performing model that allows for modest energy bills. After all, even in winter, local temperatures are nearly 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
What’s the Difference Between SEER and SEER2?
Introduced in 2023, SEER2 ratings operate on revised efficiency standards. To arrive at SEER ratings, AC manufacturers conducted performance testing in controlled laboratory settings. These environments hardly mimicked the conditions that ACs are subjected to when installed in residential buildings.
According to studies performed by the University of Florida, HVAC ducting can lead to energy losses of up to 40%, even when ductwork is properly sealed. To ensure higher levels of accuracy, SEER2 testing connects AC models to M1 blower motors to account for the effects of static pressure within HVAC air ducts. Due to the more rigorous stress testing applied by the SEER2 rating system, ACs with SEER ratings of 14 have SEER2 ratings of 13 or 13.2. In 2023, the legal minimum for SEER2 ratings in southern states like Florida is between 14 and 15.
What SEER Ratings Should I Look For?
As part of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, homeowners are qualified to receive significant tax credits for various efficiency upgrades. Among these upgrades are high-efficiency heat pumps and air conditioners. For instance, you can get a tax credit of up to 30% or up to $600 for the cost of a qualifying air conditioner or heat pump. Although this money won’t be cash in hand, it will offset your end-of-year tax debt or qualify you for a higher tax refund.
To qualify, your new air conditioner must have a SEER rating of 16 or a SEER2 rating of at least 15.2. It must also be installed by a licensed HVAC company that’s been designated as a Participating Independent Contractor (PIC).
What If I Have an Older Air Conditioner With a High SEER Rating?
Most air conditioners are expected to last between 15 and 20 years. Much like furnaces, heat pumps, and boilers, ACs tend to become less efficient over time. Thus, if your air conditioner has already provided 15 years of service but continues to function reliably, there’s still good reason to change it out. By some estimates, most air conditioners have already lost as much as half of their efficiency after just 10 years. The SEER rating that your AC was assigned more than a decade ago is no longer an accurate measure of its ability to convert electricity into cooled air.
High SEER and SEER2 Ratings Aren’t the Only Factors to Consider
The efficiency of an air conditioner isn’t determined by its SEER and SEER2 ratings alone. To perform optimally, ACs must be properly sized for their service areas and correctly installed. New air conditioners are also assigned energy efficiency ratings (EERs) which represent their British Thermal Units (BTUs) divided by their energy use in watts/hours. The recommended minimum for EERs is 11, and EERs of 14 currently represent the limits of existing cooling technologies.
It’s also important to look for air conditioners with the Energy Star distinction. Energy Star-rated appliances have met the high efficiency standards of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They also often qualify homeowners for additional tax incentives and rebates.
Contact the Professionals
With over 30 years of combined experience, we work hard to help homeowners in Margate, FL optimize their home comfort. We offer cutting-edge heating and cooling technologies and first-rate HVAC installation, maintenance, and repair services. We also provide whole-house air purification equipment and many other advanced indoor air quality (IAQ) solutions. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, get in touch with Dr. HVAC Inc today!