What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency
The Department of Energy (DOE) continuously implements rules aimed at reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the newest 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 existing 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 changes are designed to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, generate more environmentally friendly options and establish 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 in British thermal units or BTUs over a typical cooling season divided by the power consumed. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the model is, as it can remove the same level of heat using a reduced level of energy. This rating process has been an industry standard since the 1970s, empowering consumers to easily assess different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency requirements.
Quite a few ACs 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 take into account seasonal changes and instead evaluates the unit’s efficiency during peak use. EER is used for determining an air conditioner’s abilities during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is measured with 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 energy consumed. Similar to SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating means better energy efficiency. HSPF has been a traditional heating efficiency calculation since the late 1980s.
How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the newest ways to evaluate air conditioner and heat pump efficiency. These new standards give homeowners a more accurate picture of their energy use when they purchase 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 previously used refrigerants. Outdated R-22 (Freon) and R-410A (Puron) will be recovered and sold for repairing 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 evaluation requirements mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more accurate. They require 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 air conditioner and heat pump energy efficiency regulations 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 conditioning unit or heat pump. You can also search for your unit’s make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Systems installed earlier than 2023 will have a SEER rating. Those manufactured in 2022 or sooner but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All models constructed and installed in 2023 or later will get a SEER2 rating.
Note that AC models built before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant models are required from January 1 and afterward. If an HVAC company breaks these policies and the DOE cites them, they must replace the non-compliant air conditioner without charging the homeowner.
Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?
No, the shift to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only affects newly made and installed HVAC units. There is not a legal need to replace your current AC unit. But, if you’re looking to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on energy bills and comes with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning For HVAC Service in North America
Whether you determine now is the time to replace your home's AC system, or you want to keep your current system 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 find and install a compliant AC or heat pump. We also perform reliable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not looking to replace your system.
When you reach out to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, you’re partnering with a cooling and heating company that understands your needs. We are devoted to your comfort, environmental sustainability and complete satisfaction.
Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant AC? Still have questions? Call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning at 866-397-3787 today, and we’ll help you every step of the way!