This may be the first time that you are reading the term SEER, and you may be wondering what it means. SEER is an acronym for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It is calculated to measure and report the efficiency of air conditioners and heat pumps. In the United States, it is defined by the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute. This trade association is composed of air-conditioning and heating-equipment manufacturers. A more efficient air conditioner receives a higher SEER rating. As a homeowner, it is understandable to want to have an air-conditioning unit that cools your home as efficiently as possible. There are at least two benefits from economic performance: lower operating costs and fewer environmental consequences.
A Brief History
Over time, the SEER requirements have become more restrictive. Starting in 1992, federal legislation required a minimum SEER rating of 10. For residential non-window air-conditioning units, that jumped to 13 in 2006. The United States Department of Energy started taking a regional approach to air-conditioning efficiency requirements starting in 2011. As a Victorville, California homeowner, you know that your weather and climate conditions are not the same as a homeowner in the northeastern United States. California is included in the Southwestern Region for SEER purposes. Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico are the only other states in the Southwestern Region. With the start of 2015, new residential air-conditioning units in the U.S. southwest were required to have at least a 14 SEER.
What’s New For California SEER Requirements in 2023?
As published in the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) Building Energy Efficiency Standards for Residential and Nonresidential Buildings, there are many changes starting on January 1, 2023. The California Energy Code applies to remodels, additions and new construction. Considered to be critical in California’s climate change initiatives, the Energy Code was developed to support clean energy goals, public health and the climate. The CEC reviews and updates the state’s building energy requirements every three years. Proposed in 2021 and accepted by the Building Standards Commission in the summer of 2022, the new requirements in California are based on the size of the air-conditioning system and the testing procedure used to determine efficiency.
The residential split air conditioners are put into two groups. Smaller units are classified as those being less than 45,000 BTU/Hr and larger units as those being more or equal to 45,000 BTU/Hr. To be lawfully installed in California, the smaller units are required to have a SEER rating of 15 and the larger units a rating of 14.5.
Additional Rating Requirements and New Testing Method
In addition to the improved SEER efficiency requirement, starting in 2023, the Southwest region mandates an energy efficiency ratio (EER) rating. While the SEER is a measurement over an entire air-conditioning season, the EER is a number that rates efficiency at a given point, usually during peak day operations. Smaller units are required to have a 12.2 EER rating and larger ones an 11.7 rating.
As you shop for a new or replacement air-conditioning system for your home, starting in 2023, you may see ratings called SEER2 and EER2. In addition to higher efficiency requirements, improved rating techniques will be in place beginning January 1, 2023. They are called EER2 and SEER2. The U.S. Department of Energy has determined that raising external static pressure during the testing process is a better simulation of actual air-conditioning usage. Because the testing for EER2 and SEER2 are more stringent, the rating numbers are lower. For example, in California, the 2023 requirements for SEER2 are 14.3 for the smaller air-conditioning units and 13.8 for the larger ones.
SEER Ratings For Heat Pumps
Interestingly, the efficiency rating requirement for heat pumps has not been segregated regionally as air-conditioning efficiency has been. The standard requirement for all heat pumps in the United States increases to 15 SEER with an initiation date at the start of 2023. Also, because they are used for both cooling and heating, heat pumps are required to have a minimum of 8.8 HSPF, which is a heating efficiency rating.
2023 SEER Ratings For Packaged Units
A packaged heating and cooling system is one in which all the components are together. In contrast, most systems have equipment both inside and outside the home. In California, starting in 2023, the rating requirement for a packaged system is 14 SEER, 13.4 SEER2, 11 EER and 10.6 EER2.
Do Swamp Coolers Have a SEER Rating?
One of the biggest advantages to having a swamp cooler, also called an evaporative cooler, is the low energy input required for operation as compared to a central or packaged air-conditioning system. It has been estimated that a swamp cooler measured for a SEER rating would be in the range of 30 to 40.
Likely Future Changes and CEC Focus
Based on state and federal energy initiatives and emphasis on slowing climate change, we can expect that the energy-usage requirements will be updated fairly regularly. In the most recent CEC Building Energy Efficiency Standards for Residential and Nonresidential Buildings, the commission states that the energy code will emphasize the use of residential heat pumps for both space and water heating. There is also a focus on home ventilation standards as a necessity for improving indoor air quality. In fact, even though the latest California standards were formally accepted in August 2022, activity has already begun on the 2025 regulations. In the areas of both residential and non-residential building energy usage standards, California has shown that it wants to take a leadership role. In addition to publishing energy-usage requirement regulations, the CEC tracks the overall cost savings that California energy users have accrued overall as a result of lower energy usage. The commission estimates that these savings are in the billions of dollars.
Check Out All Our Services and How They Will Benefit You
Put Aace's Heating, Air Conditioning & Swamp Coolers on your team for all your Victorville home heating and cooling needs. We have trained and experienced technicians for all your heating and cooling needs. When it comes to air conditioning, we provide a complete package of installation, repairs and maintenance. For the chilly winter months, we provide the same areas of service to keep your family and home warm and comfortable. Another one of our specialties is swamp coolers. Count on us for whatever kind of service you need related to evaporative coolers. There is no reason to put up with low air quality in your home. Let us inspect your ductwork for dust, dirt and leaks. We encourage you to read our customer testimonials on our website. Check out our specials designed to save you money.
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