The Department of Energy (DOE) continuously releases new 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 if the changes impact new air conditioners, energy efficiency and whether they’ll mean you need to replace your home’s 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 rules, which took effect on January1, 2023, apply to new AC units and heat pumps. These modifications aim 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) indicating 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 system is, as it can remove the same level of heat using less energy. This rating process has been an industry standard since the 1970s, allowing consumers to easily compare different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency needs.
Many air conditioners 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 take into account seasonal changes and instead assesses the unit’s efficiency during peak use. EER is used for identifying an air conditioning system's operation during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is judged with 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. Similar to SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating means improved energy efficiency. HSPF has been a standard heating efficiency calculation since the late 1980s.
How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the most recent ways to determine air conditioner and heat pump efficiency. These cutting-edge standards give homeowners a more accurate understanding of their energy use when they install a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant models also use updated refrigerants with less 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 specifications mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more precise. 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 AC and heat pump energy efficiency rules 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 on the side of your AC or heat pump. You can also check for your unit’s make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Models installed before 2023 will list a SEER rating. Those produced in 2022 or earlier but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All models manufactured and installed in 2023 or later will have a SEER2 rating.
Note that AC models manufactured before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant units are required from January 1 and afterward. If an HVAC company violates these regulations and the DOE punishes 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 impacts newly constructed and installed HVAC units. There isn't any legal need to replace your current cooling system. But, if you’re planning to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on energy bills and grant access to more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Freschi Service Experts For HVAC Service in Concord
Whether you decide 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, Freschi Service Experts 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 air conditioning or heat pump. We also perform quality air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not quite ready to replace your system.
When you reach out to Freschi Service Experts, you’re partnering with a service provider that understands your needs. We are dedicated to your comfort, environmental sustainability and total satisfaction.
Ready to switch to a SEER2-compliant cooling system? Still have questions? Call Freschi Service Experts at 925-384-1303 today, and we’ll help you every single step of the way!