New AC units must meet higher energy standard
Minimum efficiency standards for air conditioners are on the rise. Starting Jan. 23, 2006, air conditioning manufacturers must produce units with a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating of at least 13. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the air conditioner. The current minimum is SEER 10. The new standard does not prevent a consumer from repairing an existing unit with a SEER lower than 13, nor are homeowners required to replace or upgrade existing air conditioners that have a SEER rating lower than 13. However, replacement parts for lower-efficiency units may become scarce, and a larger, more-efficient new air conditioner may necessitate structural modifications such as a larger pad or additional support.
Residential service contracts may not cover some of the additional costs necessary for a property owner to replace an older air conditioner with a new 13 SEER unit. The specific terms of the residential service contract will specify the extent of any coverage, as well as any costs to the property owner.