The Department of Energy (DOE) regularly enacts rules aimed at reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the newest 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you may wonder if the changes impact new AC units, energy efficiency and if they mean you will have to replace your home’s AC system. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions on the changes.
Why Did the DOE Make HVAC Regulatory Changes?
The new rules, which took effect on January1, 2023, cover new air conditioning systems and heat pumps. These modifications aim to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, create 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 typical 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 method has been an industry standard since the 1970s, empowering consumers to easily compare different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency requirements.
Many air conditioning units 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 evaluates the unit’s efficiency during peak performance. EER is used for calculating an air conditioner’s abilities during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is judged 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. Similar to SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating indicates improved energy efficiency. HSPF has been a common heating efficiency measurement since the late 1980s.
How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the latest ways to measure air conditioner 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 designs also use updated refrigerants with lower global warming potential (GWP) and ozone depletion potential (ODP) compared to refrigerants used in the past. 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 evaluation 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 factor into calculations.
The new air conditioner 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 check for your system's make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Units installed before 2023 will show a SEER rating. Those made in 2022 or before but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All systems constructed and installed in 2023 or later will get a SEER2 rating.
Notice that air conditioning systems manufactured before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant systems are required from January 1 and afterward. If a heating and cooling professional breaches these guidelines 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 switch to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only affects newly made and installed HVAC units. There is not a legal need to replace your existing cooling system. But, 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 For HVAC Service in Melbourne
Regardless if you think now is the time to replace your home's 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 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 reputable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not quite ready to replace your system.
When you work with Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, you’re partnering with an HVAC company that understands your needs. We are committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and utter satisfaction.
Prepared to switch to a SEER2-compliant AC? Still have questions? Call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning at 321-428-7635 today, and we’ll guide you every single step of the way!