The Department of Energy (DOE) frequently releases new rules focused on reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the most recent 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you could wonder how the new rules impact new air conditioners, energy efficiency and whether they’ll mean you need to replace your current AC system. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions on the changes.
Why Did the DOE Make HVAC Regulatory Changes?
The new regulations, which took effect on January1, 2023, impact new air conditioning systems and heat pumps. These changes aim to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, produce 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 have a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) signifying the level of cooling output in British thermal units or BTUs over a normal cooling season divided by the power consumed. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the unit is, as it can remove the same level of heat using a lesser amount of energy. This rating method has been an industry standard since the 1970s, enabling consumers to easily analyze different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency needs.
Some ACs also earn 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 measures the unit’s efficiency during peak use. EER is used for determining an AC unit's performance during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is tested using 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 signifies greater energy efficiency. HSPF has been a standard heating efficiency metric since the late 1980s.
How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the latest ways to assess air conditioner and heat pump efficiency. These cutting-edge standards give homeowners a more accurate understanding of their energy use when they buy a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant units also use updated refrigerants with less global warming potential (GWP) and ozone depletion potential (ODP) compared to previous 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 Air conditioning systems.
What Are the New 2023 Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency?
The changes in HVAC system testing criteria mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more exact. They involve testing equipment under more accurate field conditions, accounting for ductwork and static pressure, which SEER, EER and HSPF ratings don’t consider.
The new AC and heat pump energy efficiency rules 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 check out is the yellow EnergyGuide label stuck to the side of your AC or heat pump. You can also check for your system's make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Systems installed prior to 2023 will list a SEER rating. Those manufactured in 2022 or earlier but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All units produced and installed in 2023 or later will come with a SEER2 rating.
Notice that air conditioners built before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant systems are required from January 1 forward. If a heating and cooling professional breaches these regulations and the DOE punishes them, they must replace the non-compliant AC unit free of charge to the homeowner.
Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?
No, the switch to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only impacts newly constructed and installed HVAC units. There’s no legal necessity to replace your existing AC unit. But, if you’re looking to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on electricity bills and grant access to more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Stevenson Service Experts For HVAC Service in Columbus
Whether you determine now is the time to replace your existing AC system, or you want to keep your current air conditioning in top shape and going strong, Stevenson Service Experts can help. We’re on top of the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes and testing requirements, so we can help you pick out and install a compliant air conditioner or heat pump. We also perform reliable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not prepared to replace your system.
When you choose Stevenson Service Experts, you’re partnering with a service provider that understands your needs. We are committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and complete satisfaction.
Ready to switch to a SEER2-compliant AC? Still have questions? Call Stevenson Service Experts at 614-334-3192 today, and we’ll help you every step of the way!