The Department of Energy (DOE) frequently implements rules targeted on reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the most recent 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you may wonder how the new rules impact new air conditioning systems, energy efficiency and the need to replace your home’s AC system. Here are the answers to many of the frequently asked questions on the changes.
Why Did the DOE Make HVAC Regulatory Changes?
The new regulations, which took effect on January1, 2023, apply to new air conditioners and heat pumps. These modifications aim to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, create 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 get a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) indicating the level of cooling output in British thermal units or BTUs over a normal 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 amount of heat using a reduced level of energy. This rating system has been an industry standard since the 1970s, enabling consumers to easily assess different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency requirements.
Quite a few air conditioning units also have 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 performance. EER is used for identifying an air conditioning system's abilities during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is tested using the heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). This ratio figures the total heating required during the heating season (in BTUs) divided by the total watt-hours of power consumed. A lot like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating shows better energy efficiency. HSPF has been a standard heating efficiency measurement since the late 1980s.
How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the newest ways to evaluate AC and heat pump efficiency. These new standards give homeowners a more precise picture of their energy use when they buy a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant units 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 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 air conditioning 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 is the yellow EnergyGuide label on the side of your air conditioner or heat pump. You can also look for your unit’s make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Models installed prior to 2023 will have a SEER rating. Those produced in 2022 or earlier but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All systems constructed and installed in 2023 or later will come with a SEER2 rating.
Note 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 HVAC company breaches these rules and the DOE cites them, they must replace the non-compliant air conditioner free of charge to the homeowner.
Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?
No, the change to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only impacts newly constructed and installed HVAC units. There’s no legal necessity to replace your existing AC unit. Having said that, if you’re looking to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on electricity bills and comes with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Falso Service Experts For HVAC Service in East Syracuse
Whether you think 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, Falso Service Experts can help. We’re well-versed in 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 quality air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not prepared to replace your system.
When you work with Falso Service Experts, you’re partnering with an HVAC company that understands your needs. We are devoted to your comfort, environmental sustainability and complete satisfaction.
Prepared to switch to a SEER2-compliant AC? Still have questions? Call Falso Service Experts at 315-313-6531 today, and we’ll help you every single step of the way!