What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency
The Department of Energy (DOE) frequently implements rules targeted on reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the newest 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you might wonder if the changes impact new air conditioners, energy efficiency and whether they’ll mean you need to replace your home’s AC system. Here are the answers to many of the frequently asked questions on these new standards.
Why Did the DOE Make HVAC Regulatory Changes?
The new rules, which took effect on January1, 2023, apply to new air conditioners and heat pumps. These modifications aim to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, produce more environmentally friendly options and develop new standards for refrigerants and testing methods.
How Is Heating and Cooling Efficiency Measured?
All air conditioners and heat pumps receive a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) signifying the level of cooling output in British thermal units or BTUs over a regular cooling season divided by the energy consumed. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the unit is, as it can remove the same quantity of heat using a reduced level of energy. This rating method has been an industry standard since the 1970s, empowering consumers to easily evaluate different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency requirements.
Quite a few air conditioners 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 account for seasonal changes and instead measures the unit’s efficiency during peak operation. EER is used for determining an air conditioner’s performance during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is tested using the heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). This ratio finds the total heating required during the heating season (in BTUs) divided by the total watt-hours of electricity consumed. Like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating indicates greater energy efficiency. HSPF has been a traditional heating efficiency measurement since the late 1980s.
How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the most recent 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 install a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant models also use updated refrigerants with lower 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 fixing older units, but they won’t be allowed in new cooling systems.
What Are the New 2023 Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency?
The changes in HVAC system evaluation specifications mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more precise. They involve testing equipment under more realistic 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 check out is the yellow EnergyGuide label attached to the side of your air conditioning unit or heat pump. You can also look for your unit’s make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Systems installed before 2023 will list a SEER rating. Those made in 2022 or before but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All models made and installed in 2023 or later will get a SEER2 rating.
Know that air conditioners made before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant systems are required from January 1 onward. If an installer breaches these regulations and the DOE punishes 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 manufactured and installed HVAC units. There is not a legal need to replace your current cooling system. But, if you’re planning to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on electric bills and comes with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning For HVAC Service in Raleigh
Regardless if you decide now is the time to replace your current AC system, or you want to keep your current air conditioner in top shape and going strong, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning can help. We’re very familiar with the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes and testing requirements, so we can help you select and install a compliant air conditioning or heat pump. We also perform reliable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not quite ready to replace your system.
When you choose Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, you’re partnering with a service provider that understands your needs. We are dedicated to your comfort, environmental sustainability and total satisfaction.
Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant AC? Still have questions? Call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning at 919-578-4329 today, and we’ll assist you each step of the way!