air quality / May 25, 2023

New SEER Standards are Here! What They Mean for San Diego-Area Homeowners

New federal standards for minimum energy efficiency in heat pump and central A/C systems went into effect on January 1 of 2023. Most of these won’t have much affect on San Diego-area homeowners, but it’s good to know about them–especially because the new regulations can have a meaningful effect on your home’s energy efficiency and on your energy bill!

The AC repair, installation, and maintenance pros at Mauzy can help you understand what the new SEER standards mean for San Diego-area homeowners, and can make recommendations for efficient and money-saving AC upgrades. Give us a call at 619-313-6344.

What is SEER?

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) was established in 1992 by the Energy Policy Act. This standard measures how efficiently air conditioners and air-source heat pumps are using energy. It is calculated by taking into account the amount of cool air generated in comparison to the amount of electricity it takes to generate that air. SEER takes into consideration how A/C units and heat pumps work throughout the entire season, not just in peak-use periods.

The Department of Energy deemed regional SEER rating standards necessary due to the variation of air conditioning-related energy consumption around the country. For example, due to the prolonged warm weather season in the south and southwest, air conditioning systems naturally require more energy to keep homes cool than in northern climates.

Revised SEER regulations for 2023 and beyond

This year marks the beginning of two significant revisions to the SEER standards. Firstly, the minimum SEER rating for air conditioners is now 14 in Northern states and 15 in Southern states, increasing from the 11 SEER minimum established in 2011.

Additionally, SEER2 has been introduced. This modification gauges the amount of heat removed from an area against the energy consumed, and will have minimal effect on customers apart from increasing visibility into energy consumption. Look out for SEER2 ratings displayed on new AC unit and heat pump packaging.

What the new SEER standard means for the San Diego area 

When it’s time to get a new air conditioner or heat pump, opting for a model with a high regional SEER rating can result in major energy savings. By picking a unit with a SEER rating of 16 rather than 14, you could potentially reduce your yearly electric bill by $50.

On top of the financial benefits, using a system with a higher SEER rating is good for the environment too. Energy-efficient A/C units reduce the number of atmospheric pollutants and greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. Plus, modern A/C units often use Puron, an ozone-safe refrigerant that does not damage the planet’s ozone layer.

If you are using an air conditioner or heat pump with a SEER rating lower than the new standard, no need to panic—replacement is not necessary. But if the unit fails, it is necessary to purchase a unit with a minimum SEER rating of 14 or 15, depending on your geographical area. Furthermore, new models of this standard are more energy efficient, resulting in more savings on electricity bills.

Considerations to meet the new SEER standards

When you are ready to update your A/C system, there are a few things to take into account, such as BTUs, the size of your house, insulation quality, and if there are any gaps in your windows and doors. For households in the South and West, the SEER requirement of 14 applies only to split air conditioners and heat pumps with 45,000 BTUs or higher. The technicians from Mauzy can do a thorough assessment of your current setup and help you select the best appliance for your house. Give us a call at 619-313-6344.

Homeowners in the San Diego area should take these factors into consideration when striving to make their dwellings more energy efficient, getting the most out of their air conditioning system. Professionals like the team at Mauzy can help simplify the process of picking an A/C unit that’s right for your home and meets energy-efficiency requirements. Call us today for advice and recommendations: 619-313-6344.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is SEER?

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and is a measure of the general energy efficiency of air conditioners and air-source heat pumps. SEER ratings indicate how well an air conditioner will perform, from an energy standpoint, during warm seasons.

When did SEER become a federal regulation?

SEER regulations were first put into place in 1992 when President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act. At that time, federal regulations required a minimum SEER rating of 10 for heating and air conditioning systems.

How do I find the SEER rating of my AC unit?

Most AC units have a label that lists the SEER rating, among other specs.

What should my AC unit’s SEER rating be?

The new standards for 2023 will require a SEER of 15 or higher for the states in the southern part of the US.

What are regional SEER requirements?

In 2011 the US Department of Energy established regional SEER rating standards, understanding that the amount of energy used for air conditioning varied in different parts of the country. For example, the Southern region has a longer warm-weather season than the North, so AC units run longer and use more energy to cool homes in the region.

Why is a high SEER rating important?

A good SEER rating can be a key factor in selecting an energy-efficient AC unit. The higher the SEER rating, the more you can save on electricity over the season, because the AC system needs less energy to function.

What does a high SEER rating mean for the environment?

An energy-efficient AC unit with a high SEER rating can help reduce your carbon footprint by lowering greenhouse gases and other atmospheric pollutants. Newer units also use a new coolant that does not damage the ozone layer.

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