SEER1 vs. SEER2: All About This Important Number

An energy-efficient HVAC system, air conditioner, or heat pump can reduce your energy usage and help your bank account. When you are shopping for your new system, you may want to compare each unit’s energy efficiency rating. That’s where SEER comes in. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is a calculation that helps buyers understand how much energy a system will consume in one year. To calculate the SEER rating, the manufacturer takes the total output in British Thermal Units, or BTUs, and divides it by the total number of watt-hours. Manufacturers post this rating on a yellow and black label on the side of the unit.

The SEER1 Rating

In 1992, the first legislation requiring a specific SEER rating took effect. This legislation required a minimum SEER rating of 10 for HVAC systems in the United States. Consumers searching for a new HVAC system could use this standard measurement to compare the energy efficiency of units. A higher SEER rating meant better energy efficiency and lower energy bills.

In 2006, the United States raised the minimum SEER rating to 13. This change prompted HVAC system manufacturers to improve their systems’ energy efficiency ratings. A combination of technological advances and stricter regulations continue to push the average SEER rating higher. Today’s new HVAC systems have an average SEER rating between 15 and 18. Buyers willing to pay more for their new HVAC system can find units with a SEER rating above 20.


As of January 1, 2023, new HVAC systems feature a SEER2 rating. Although SEER2 does not replace the original SEER rating, the newer rating may provide a better estimate of the unit’s energy efficiency. Critics of the original SEER rating believe that SEER1 ratings were calculated in idealistic conditions. SEER ratings were often lower during testing. With the introduction of SEER2, regulators hoped to provide consumers with a more realistic rating.

To calculate the SEER2 rating, testers simulate a harsher and more realistic environment. Like the SEER1 rating, testers start by taking the cooling BTUs per hour and divide it by input wattage over three months. Testers operate the HVAC units in conditions that mimic real-world usage. As a result, SEER2 ratings are an average of 4.5 percent lower than the original SEER rating.

Air conditioners and heat pumps manufactured after January 1, 2023 must meet the minimum requirements for SEER2 ratings. The minimum SEER2 varies by region. Oregon falls under the requirements of the North Region. The minimum SEER2 rating for all air conditioners in Oregon is 13.4. If you purchase an air conditioner manufactured before January 1, 2023, the air conditioner can have a SEER1 rating of 13.0.

For heat pumps, the minimum required SEER2 rating depends on the type of heat pump. No matter what region you’re located in, your new heat pump must meet or exceed the minimum SEER2 rating. For single-package heat pumps, the minimum SEER2 is 13.4. Split system heat pumps have a minimum SEER of 14.3.

Check the EnergyGuide Label

The best place to learn about a system’s SEER1 or SEER2 rating is the EnergyGuide label. Manufacturers post this yellow and black label on most home appliances. This label includes important information that can help you evaluate and compare HVAC systems. The EnergyGuide label may include the following information:

  • Key features
  • Estimated annual operating cost
  • Energy efficiency rating (SEER1, SEER2)
  • Unit specifications, including model number and dimensions

Your Energy-Efficient HVAC Experts

When we opened our doors in 2002, our team at Jco Heating A/C Electrical focused on providing the best heating, cooling, and electrical services in the Springfield area. We pride ourselves on building long-term relationships with our customers. When you call us, you know you’re getting top-notch customer service based on honesty, integrity, and fairness. Our expert technicians can handle all your HVAC installation, maintenance, and repair needs. We repair all makes and models of heating and cooling systems. When you’re ready to purchase a new furnace, heat pump, or air conditioner, we can recommend the right energy-efficient unit for your home. Our electricians also can handle your electrical system needs. We can repair your circuit breaks and upgrade your electrical panel.

Contact our team at Jco Heating A/C Electrical and ask about our energy-efficient HVAC systems!