What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency
The Department of Energy (DOE) continuously enacts 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 how the new rules impact new AC units, energy efficiency and whether they’ll mean you need to replace your home’s 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 rules, which took effect on January1, 2023, impact new air conditioners and heat pumps. These modifications are designed to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, create 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) specifying 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 system is, as it can remove the same quantity of heat using a lesser amount of energy. This rating process 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.
Many air conditioning units 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 take into account seasonal changes and instead evaluates the unit’s efficiency during peak performance. EER is used for determining an air conditioning system's performance during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is measured 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 energy consumed. Similar to SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating shows improved 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 newest ways to assess AC and heat pump efficiency. These brand-new standards give homeowners a more accurate picture of their energy use when they buy a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant units 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 fixing older units, but they won’t be allowed in new HVAC systems.
What Are the New 2023 Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency?
The changes in HVAC system assessment criteria mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more exact. They include testing equipment under more accurate field conditions, accounting for ductwork and static pressure, which SEER, EER and HSPF ratings don’t factor into calculations.
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 look is the yellow EnergyGuide label attached to the side of your air conditioner or heat pump. You can also check for your air conditioner or heat pump's make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Models installed prior to 2023 will have a SEER rating. Those made in 2022 or earlier but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All systems manufactured and installed in 2023 or later will get a SEER2 rating.
Note that AC models made before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant units are required from January 1 forward. If a heating and cooling professional violates these rules and the DOE disciplines them, they must replace the non-compliant air conditioning without charging the homeowner.
Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?
No, the shift to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only impacts newly constructed and installed HVAC units. There’s no legal necessity to replace your current AC unit. Having said that, if you’re planning to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on electric bills and provide you with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning For HVAC Service in Fort Myers
No matter if you decide 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 select and install a compliant air conditioner or heat pump. We also perform dependable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not quite ready to replace your system.
When you reach out to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, you’re partnering with a service provider 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 Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning at 239-908-6991 today, and we’ll assist you each step of the way!