What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency
The Department of Energy (DOE) regularly implements rules aimed at reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the latest 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you could wonder if the changes impact new air conditioning systems, energy efficiency and if they mean you will have to replace your current AC system. Here are the answers to many of the frequently asked questions on this topic.
Why Did the DOE Make HVAC Regulatory Changes?
The new regulations, which took effect on January1, 2023, apply to new air conditioning systems and heat pumps. These updates are designed 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) indicating the level of cooling output in British thermal units or BTUs over a regular cooling season divided by the electricity consumed. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the unit is, as it can remove the same level of heat using less energy. This rating process has been an industry standard since the 1970s, enabling consumers to easily compare different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency needs.
Some 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 take into account seasonal changes and instead measures the unit’s efficiency during peak use. EER is used for identifying an air conditioner’s performance during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is judged utilizing the heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). This ratio determines the total heating required during the heating season (in BTUs) divided by the total watt-hours of electricity consumed. A lot like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating shows greater energy efficiency. HSPF has been a standard heating efficiency metric 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 brand-new standards give homeowners a more reliable picture 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 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 HVAC 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 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 AC 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.
Systems installed prior to 2023 will list a SEER rating. Those manufactured in 2022 or before but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All units made and installed in 2023 or later will get a SEER2 rating.
Note that air conditioning systems 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 an HVAC company breaks these regulations and the DOE cites them, they must replace the non-compliant AC unit without charging the homeowner.
Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?
No, the change to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only places restrictions on newly manufactured and installed HVAC units. There is not a legal requirement to replace your home's air conditioner. However, if you’re planning to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on power bills and grant access to more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning For HVAC Service in Roanoke
Whether you determine 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 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 reliable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not looking to replace your system.
When you work with Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, you’re partnering with a cooling and heating company that understands your needs. We are fully committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and utter satisfaction.
Prepared to switch to a SEER2-compliant cooling system? Still have questions? Call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning at 540-302-8645 today, and we’ll assist you every single step of the way!