What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency
The Department of Energy (DOE) regularly enacts rules focused on reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the latest 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you could wonder if the changes impact new air conditioning systems, energy efficiency and whether they’ll mean you need to replace your existing AC system. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions on this topic.
Why Did the DOE Make HVAC Regulatory Changes?
The new rules, which took effect on January1, 2023, impact new air conditioning systems and heat pumps. These updates are designed to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, generate more environmentally friendly options and set new standards for refrigerants and testing methods.
How Is Heating and Cooling Efficiency Measured?
All air conditioners and heat pumps get a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) signifying the level of cooling output over a regular cooling season (in British thermal units or BTUs) divided by the energy consumed (in watt-hours). The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the system is, as it can remove the same amount of heat using less energy. This rating method has been an industry standard since the 1970s, enabling consumers to easily assess different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency needs.
Some ACs also receive an energy efficiency ratio (EER) calculated by dividing the cooling output (BTUs per hour) by the electrical power input (in watts) at a single point in time. Unlike SEER, EER does not factor in seasonal changes and instead assesses the unit’s efficiency during peak operation. EER is used for calculating an air conditioning system’s operation during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is measured with the heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). This ratio calculates the total heating required during the heating season (in BTUs) divided by the total watt-hours of power consumed. Like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating indicates greater energy efficiency. HSPF has been a traditional heating efficiency metric since the late 1980s.
How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the newest ways to assess air conditioning and heat pump efficiency. These brand-new standards give homeowners a more precise understanding of their energy use when they buy a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant models also use updated refrigerants with reduced global warming potential (GWP) and ozone depletion potential (ODP) compared to previously used refrigerants. Outdated R-22 (Freon) and R-410A (Puron) will be recovered and sold for restoring older units, but they won’t be allowed in new HVAC systems.
What Are the New 2023 Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency?
The changes in HVAC system assessment requirements mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more accurate. They involve testing equipment under more practical field conditions, accounting for ductwork and static pressure, which SEER, EER and HSPF ratings don’t take into consideration.
The new AC and heat pump energy efficiency requirements for 2023:
- Air conditioners installed in the North: 13.4 SEER2 (14 SEER)
- Air conditioners installed in the South: 14.3 SEER2 (15 SEER)
- Air conditioners installed in the Southwest: 14.3 SEER2 (15 SEER) & 11.7 EER2 (12.2 EER)
- Heat pumps installed nationwide: 14.3 SEER2 (15 SEER) & 7.5 HSPF2 (8.8 HSPF)
How Do I Find My Current HVAC Efficiency Rating?
The first place to look is the yellow EnergyGuide label stuck to the side of your AC or heat pump. You can also look for your unit’s make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Units installed prior to 2023 will have a SEER rating. Those manufactured in 2022 or earlier but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All systems manufactured and installed in 2023 or later will get a SEER2 rating.
Know that air conditioning systems manufactured before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant models are required from January 1 onward. If an HVAC company violates these policies and the DOE cites them, they must replace the non-compliant AC unit without billing the homeowner.
Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?
No, the shift to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only places restrictions on newly made and installed HVAC units. There isn’t any legal requirement to replace your home’s cooling system. Having said that, if you’re planning to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on electric bills and grant access to more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing For HVAC Service in the U.S.
Regardless if you conclude now is the time to replace your current AC system, or you want to keep your current system in top shape and going strong, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can help. We’re very familiar with the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes and testing requirements, so we can help you pick out and install a compliant AC or heat pump. We also perform quality air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not quite ready to replace your system.
When you work with Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, you’re partnering with a service provider that understands your needs. We are devoted to your comfort, environmental sustainability and utter satisfaction.
Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant HVAC unit? Still have questions? Call Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing at 866-397-3787 today, and we’ll assist you each and every step of the way!
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