What’s the Minimum AC SEER Rating to Qualify for a Tax Rebate?

Upgrading the air conditioner in your Portland, OR home is a great way to modernize your property, boost its value, and get more enjoyment from your living space right now. While most air conditioners last between 15 and 20 years, recent changes in refrigerant use and efficiency standards could make your aging cooling equipment more expensive to keep than replace. With many air conditioners losing nearly half of their efficiency after just one decade of service, you can also look forward to lower energy bills and a significantly smaller carbon footprint. Best of all, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 opened the door to some pretty impressive tax incentives. Read on to learn all about the AC SEER requirements that your new equipment will need for you to take advantage of tax rebates.

What Is an Air Conditioner’s SEER Rating?

Short for seasonal energy efficiency ratio, SEER is a rating system that establishes the federal minimum efficiency requirements for air conditioners. SEER ratings compare an air conditioner’s total energy use over the course of a single cooling season to its total cooling output throughout this same time. Much like the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratings of furnaces that compare fuel use to the output of heat energy, SEER ratings determine how good air conditioners are at converting electricity into cooling power. Higher SEER ratings denote higher levels of efficiency and cooling processes that produce less overall energy waste.

What’s the Difference Between a SEER Rating and a SEER 2 Rating?

In 2023, air conditioners with SEER2 ratings hit the market. SEER2 ratings work much the same as SEER ratings. However, the testing process for determining SEER2 ratings incorporates the use of M1 blower motors. These motors account for the efficiency losses that occur due to static pressure within HVAC ducting. As such, SEER2 ratings provide a more accurate account of how ACs actually are when installed and used in ducted residential buildings.

Minimum SEER and SEER2 Requirements for Portland

There are two minimum requirements for SEER and SEER2 ratings. There are the federally allowed SEER and SEER2 ratings and the federally required ratings for qualifying for tax rebates. In northern states like OR, federal law requires that all ACs sold and installed must have SEER ratings of at least 14 and SEER2 ratings of at least 13.4. 

SEER Requirements for Qualifying for a Tax Rebate

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 earmarked $8.8 billion for energy rebates for property owners willing to make efficiency upgrades that meet all terms for the requirement.  If eligible, you could receive a tax rebate of up to $1,200. Although this won’t be a cash-in-hand payment, it will offset your end-of-year tax debt or increase your tax return. Only ENERGY STAR-rated air conditioners with SEER2 ratings of at least 16 are qualified. 

What Are the Benefits of a High SEER Rating?

Air conditioners with SEER2 ratings of at least 16 come with enhanced features. Many models include variable-speed blowers and two-stage compressors that cut energy use and save homeowners money without compromising indoor comfort. More importantly, they’re much cheaper to use overall. By some estimates, an AC with a SEER2 rating of 16 or higher could lead to savings of nearly 18% on the typical household’s annual cooling costs.

Important Tips for Optimizing the Efficiency of a New AC

Air conditioners with higher ratings cost quite a bit more than air conditioners that only meet the federal minimum for efficiency. If well-maintained, properly installed, and correctly sized for their service areas, many of these models will last long enough to more than pay for themselves in energy savings. Variable-speed motors sustain less wear than blower motors that run at the same speed all of the time. This allows for longer lifespans and greater value for consumers overall.

However, to enjoy these and other benefits from your new AC, it’s important to:

  • Maintain your ducting
  • Create a fairly tight home envelope
  • Avoid common, installation-related problems

We use the Manual J Load Calculation to find the right size air conditioners for our clients. This considers factors like building layouts, ceiling heights, insulation types and amounts, the number of residents, and more. If you purchase an AC that’s too small for your home, it will run longer cooling cycles, wear down rapidly, and maintain low levels of efficiency throughout its lifespan. This remains true even if your undersized AC has a SEER2 rating of 16.

In contrast, overly large air conditioners short cycle. They turn on, produce short, intense bursts of cooling, and quickly cycle back off. This less-than-efficient manner of operation also shortens their lifespans. 

Increase Your Tax Rebates With Building-Specific Efficiency Upgrades

In addition to the up to $1,200 in tax rebates that you can get for installing a qualified air conditioner, you can also get another $2,400 in rebates for making eligible efficiency upgrades. These include adding new insulation, replacing old, inefficient windows, and upgrading your doors, among other things. Scheduling multiple efficiency upgrades throughout the year will give you more end-of-year tax savings.

Give Your Ductwork an Overall

To optimize the performance and efficiency of new cooling equipment, our HVAC technicians often perform various ductwork modifications and repairs during replacement. However, Most HVAC air ducts have estimated lifespans of 10 to 15 years. If efficiency and energy savings are a top priority, it may be a good idea to replace these features as well. Efficient ducting can help you qualify for building-specific tax credits for energy upgrades, improve your air quality, and promote longer life and greater overall health for your AC.

AC Refrigerant: What to Know in 2024 and Beyond

The standards for AC refrigerant are fast-changing. In 2010, the gradual phasing-out of R-22 refrigerant or Freon began. This was replaced by R-401a or Puron, which doesn’t include any hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and proved less detrimental to the natural environment. However, Puron does contain hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which have a lesser impact but an impact nonetheless. Although Puron is legally allowed, it’s no longer the industry standard for residential AC refrigerant. The latest air conditioner refrigerant to hit the market is R-454b.

Keeping your home’s cooling system on par with the latest industry standards is key for keeping your home on par with the most current market standards. However, it also makes your air conditioner easy to service. With Freon, the remaining domestic stores of this refrigerant are limited, costly, and fast-dwindling. There are also increasingly fewer HVAC technicians who are qualified and experienced in handling it. This same will soon be true of Puron. Upgrading your AC this year will qualify you for generous tax rebates and help you avoid the hassle of recharging outdated cooling equipment.

We’re proud to serve Portland, OR and the surrounding cities. Our team of professionals offer top-notch HVAC installation, maintenance, and repair services. We also provide oil-to-gas conversions, ductless heat pumps, air quality improvements, and comfort and efficiency upgrades. For help making the most of the tax incentives made available by the Inflation Reduction Act, contact Revival Energy Group now.